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Theatre students participate in the Winter Lab Series

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Undergraduate directors are now finding a way to make their artistic voices heard through classic stage productions that they are making their own in a theater series at DePaul, through their unique concepts, casts and plays, all hand-selected by the students participating in the Winter Lab Series.  

Margaret Baughman, a senior theatre arts major with a concentration in directing, wrestled with Shakespearean dialogue, rewrites of her script and feminist issues all before rehearsal even began for her take on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The play centers around two couples with notably contrasting dispositions and narratives surrounding love.

Claudio and Hero are young, stunning and in love from the moment their eyes meet. Beatrice and Benedict are profoundly clever and constantly challenging each other in both intellect and humor throughout the course of the play. While Beatrice and Benedict are not afraid of some grit and conflict in their reluctant pursuit of each other, Claudio and Hero represent the naive and youthful concept of love at first sight. Yet, interestingly enough, their romance is tainted by the workings of the play’s antagonist and comes to its apex as Claudio shames and disgraces Hero on their wedding day for an alleged impure act. This scene is brutal, as it follows a young Hero being abused by all the most important men in her life and ending in her fainting on stage in a frenzy.

“I got really mad about that (scene) for a minute and then realized I could change it,” Baughman said.

In Baughman’s play, the basis of the story remains intact out of respect for Shakespeare, but because it is public domain, she took her own approach by giving her adaptation of the play the title “Much Ado By William Shakespeare F*%$**ed Up.”

The artistic process that came even before the chance to direct came as Baughman cut, rearranged, wrote and even choreographed her own take on the complex stories of the two couples.

“I’m never going to direct something that doesn’t have feminism as a part of it in some way,” Baughman said.

In her adaptation, women do not go silent after marriage. Hero has some unexpected fire behind her naive exterior and there is a huge choreographed masquerade.

“There is a part of me that is that cool English teacher screaming ‘But guys, Shakespeare is fun,’” Baughman said.

The script has been in constant flux for the past year, which is roughly how long the process of adapting the play has taken her.

You can see her unique interpretation of a classic text Feb. 19 through Feb. 21 at 6:30 pm in the theatre school’s room 305.

Caroline Pramas is a theatre management major who made her way through the directing classes not for requirements, but an enjoyment of the process. She will be directing “Play for Germs” by Israel Horovitz.

This play features the germ versions of Socrates and Aristotle all set within the confines of a uterus. The play delves into philosophy, women’s issues and a slew of other contemplative struggles. Socrates is Syphilis and Aristotle is Gonorrhea, respectively, and they float within a women uterus for the 30 minute duration of the play in constant dialogue.

With experience directing the DePaul Theatre Union show and involvement in the theatre school, these four years have been impactful for Pramas.

“Coming here was the best decision of my life so far,” Pramas said.

The play has its challenges as to make the setting of a uterus believable, one would assume significant money would have to be shed. Yet the entire Winter Lab Series is produced, designed and funded by the students themselves. The casts are there as volunteers for the intense four week rehearsal process and receive no grade or participatory credentials for doing the shows. Outside of funding and the hurried rehearsal process before shows hit the stage, Pramas biggest directorial challenge is unique to her.

“I just really need to find a pink inflatable chair. They aren’t as popular as they used to be,” Pramas said.

You can see her philosophical piece Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the theatre school’s room 324.

For his directorial debut, DePaul student Adam Elliot chose “The Veldt,” written by Ray Bradbury as a short story originally and then adapted to the stage by Bradbury himself. This play is more serious than the others in tone and concept, centered around the sinister possibilities of technology in a modern world.

“The Veldt” is set in an idyllic 1950s household after the exciting addition of a new playroom. Slowly the playroom starts to take over the lives of all members of the family with its seemingly limitless possibilities, a grand metaphor for technologies terrifying capabilities to enrapture and hypnotize.

“This room becomes this family’s life, and starts to take over their entire world, much like how technology runs our lives” Elliot said.

Although many directors would be shaking at the lack of budget, Elliot welcomes the challenge and its space to explore innovative and artistically unprecedented approaches to the work.

“We are going to have a very minimalist set and will be using a lot of shadows and projections to create this sense of a room that you are never actually going to be in,” Elliot said.

The essence of the room is that it can take you anywhere you want to go, much like technology has become so much of an escape. The biggest challenge Elliot faces is the gap in time periods, trying to make a play written for a 1950s audience affect the millennials of today.

“You do have to alter it to still ring true in 2016 but that really doesn’t take a lot of work because Ray Bradbury was a genius,” Elliot said.

You can see Elliot’s take on Bradbury’s prophetic vision of what technology can do Feb. 19 to Feb. 21 at 8:30 p.m. in the theatre school’s room 302. Tickets are free and the sign up sheets will be available at the theatre school box office Feb. 9 at noon for lab four and Feb. 16 at noon for lab five and six.

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Theatre students participate in the Winter Lab Series