Tuesday, May 6, 2014

SCR’s Teen Players: It Begins with Piles of Scripts

Lindsey Wiercioch, Christopher Huntley, Jamie Ostmann, Guy McEleney, Kelsey Bray,
and Lauren Cocroft rehearse Bliss, by Laurie Woolery.
by Laurie Woolery
directed by Hisa Takakuwa
SCR Teen Players
Nicholas Studio
May 16-May 25, 2014

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Every season, SCR Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa is faced with a dilemma.

It goes like this: In the fall, some of the most talented students in the Teen Acting Program are chosen—through audition—to join the Teen Players ensemble group. Seventeen young actors were selected this season. That’s a lot of talented kids.

So what’s the dilemma? Finding just the right play for them to perform in the 94-seat Nicholas Studio in the spring. With her 17 actors in mind, Takakuwa begins reading scripts—tons of them, looking for the perfect one with roles for all of her actors.

One of the plays she has considered in the past is a revival of Bliss, by former Theatre Conservatory Director Laurie Woolery. Bliss was first produced in 2000 and, according to Takakuwa, “Laurie and I had talked about doing her play again, but it never quite worked out. Finally, this season, I knew I could cast all of the kids in the play (Woolery actually added characters in the rewrite), and with the acting challenges and the casting possibilities, the timing was perfect.”

Playwright Laurie Woolery
For Woolery, it was an opportunity to revisit a play she wrote 14 years ago. “I needed to reflect on what I was trying to say then and whether or not it’s still relevant,” she says. “Bliss was my first full-length play, and there was a kind of innocence to my approach.”

Improvisations with the students helped.

“Through our improv sessions, I ended up adding the new characters,” says Wollery. “As for changes in the play itself, I listened to the students, who are a great barometer for what is honest and rings true. Some sections of the play remained the same, but one was really transformed. Working together, we were able to reconnect to why music is so important in their lives, talk about the culture of fame and the current artists who speak to them.”

In 2000, those artists were (you guessed it) Courtney Love, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. This time around? Katie Perry, Miley Cyrus and One Direction.

Bliss rehearsals are underway in the Theatre Conservatory rehearsal rooms, where, according to Woolery, “I still feel I’ve done some of my most honest and visceral work. Those young students shaped me into the artist and person I am today and still continue to inspire me.”

And that’s where Takakuwa and her cast will shape the play, rehearsing after school twice a week and then moving to the Nicholas Studio for the final two weeks until Bliss opens on Saturday, May 17. (sidebar: box with dates and times)

Learn more and buy tickets.

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