Tuesday, July 5, 2022

New storefront initiative helps theater department students

September 29, 2021
<p>The MSU Auditorium sits on Auditorium Rd and houses the Department of Theater. Just outside the Auditorium is where you'll find the infamous Rock. Every year, the theater department puts on the "Haunted Aud" to display their talents and earn grants.</p>

The MSU Auditorium sits on Auditorium Rd and houses the Department of Theater. Just outside the Auditorium is where you'll find the infamous Rock. Every year, the theater department puts on the "Haunted Aud" to display their talents and earn grants.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

As part of their new Storefront Theatre Initiative, The Department of Theatre at Michigan State University is presenting the play, "The Penelopiad."

The show is a feminist retelling of Homer's "The Odyssey" from the perspective of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus.

“No one really was talking about the fact that (Odysseus) married this young woman, Penelope, when she was only 15 years old, and he takes her from her home, over to his home in Ithaca, and he gets her pregnant," director Abbie Cathcart said. 'She has a baby, by him, and then he abandons her for 20 years.”

The play is adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name. Cathcart thinks Atwood did not want to brush aside the story of Penelope.

“The only legacy that is left for Penelope is just that she was this long-suffering wife who was just patiently waiting," Cathcart said. "The legacy for her has nothing to do with the fact that she was kind of incredible, and she accomplished a lot."

Cathcart said storefront theater plays are performed in any space available to actors, similar to a literal storefront.

“Creative teams are challenged to work with limited resources and shorter rehearsal periods, with an emphasis on the elements they can control, writing, acting and directing,” reads the MSU Department of Theater website.

Cathcart stressed the value of putting on experimental works by the unconventional choices the cast and crew make to bring the play to life. For example, the cast and crew of "The Penelopiad" are bringing props from home and using actors for sound effects.

"This is the style that a lot of actors will be going to," Cathcart said. "More likely than not, if they want to continue working and crafting their artistry, they're going to be doing it with less of a budget in areas where they are going to have to be looking at their artistry ... and also wearing several different hats."

“These shows focus on dynamic roles to showcase and challenge the Department’s acting students by emulating the storefront production model that many will encounter following graduation,” Rob Roznowski, Head of Acting for the Department of Theatre, said in a press release.

Performances run Oct. 5-9 in Studio 60 at the MSU Auditorium. General admission tickets are $10 and can be purchased online in advance or at the door with a credit card or check.

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