For the past three years, MSU’s Department of Theatre has debuted original feature films made within the department at the annual Traverse City Film Festival.
For the "Theatre2Film" project, MSU students and professors collaborate to create a script that is first produced as a staged play, then as a feature film to premiere at the annual festival. This year, the department was proud to present the psychological thriller “Stay With Me."
Making its debut July 26 at the Old Town Playhouse near downtown Traverse City, “Stay With Me” was one of several dozen films premiered at the festival.
Set in the present Midwest, a family descends into chaos when threatened with the loss of their home. Widower farmer Revis Wallace, played by Assistant Professor of Media Acting Mark Colson, risks losing his farm-property home to foreclosure from the bank. This leads Wallace to become stricken with alcoholism, thus affecting his psychological perceptions of reality. Wallace sees visions of his deceased bride, Katharine, played by Megan Cochrane, showcasing his descent into madness. The family does what they can to deal with their grievances, though it proves arduous.
The youngest daughter, Moira, played by theatre senior Nicole Tini, transitions through phases of rebellion while striving to unite the family in the midst of their tragedy. The eldest daughter, Rachel, played by theatre senior Shelbey Antel, becomes disillusioned by her father's erratic behavior, causing her to combat her own demons.
Colson's previous credentials in television include guest appearances in shows such as “Outsiders,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Mad Men,” BONES,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Justified,” “CSI: NY,” among others. Making his return to acting in film, he juggled the roles of both acting and producing.
Colson said he wrote the film's story together with an MSU alumna, CJ Valle. When asked about his overall vision for the film, Colson said the focus was playing with genre identity.
“Maybe because I am a bit of a rebel, I do not like to be told that I have a lot of rules to follow,” Colson said. “This thing started out as a piece of Americana, then it went into Thriller, and it almost went into Horror. We got rid of that Horror aspect… for the film because we were able to tell tighter, tauter story.”
Tini, an experienced actor, felt confident in her ability to portray her role in the film. She felt a family-type relationship with the rest of the cast/crew.
“I think there was a bit of me that was definitely able to latch into her personality,” Tini said. “I’m not particularly (as) rebellious as she is, but it was so fun to play.”
The film made its premiere at a sold-out show, whose audience consisted of several dozen current MSU students and alumni alike.