Article Written by Cambrie Kowal
After preparing and practicing for seven weeks, St. Cloud State’s Department of Theatre and Film Studies performed “Leveling Up” in the Area Theatre, Performing Arts Center for the first time on Wednesday, Mar. 22.
The university’s theatre department just recently redesigned and relaunched its major to follow a more modern approach. “Our new focus is on theatre and social change, and that’s the title of our new major,” said the director of the show, Jeffery Bleam. “We are looking for things that either connect with other groups on campus, or with ‘Leveling Up’ that deal with issues and ethical questions that are relevant to our students’ audience.”
Bleam has been the director of the theatre program for the past eighteen years but has been directing theatre for a total of thirty years. Bleam takes a lot of pride in a new program that is set apart from theatre programs found at other schools. Bleam is a very hands-on director, typically taking on design roles within the show; however, the productions are run mostly by students.
“We have a more organic approach to how we do productions. Currently, we do two productions a year,” said Bleam.
“Leveling Up” included a four-member cast and a five-member crew helping backstage and up in the tech booth. The show was written by Deborah Zoe Luafer, a well-known American playwright and theatre director. It features four friends who are completely captivated by the world online. Recently graduated from college, they struggle to navigate through the real world as the line between reality and fantasy becomes unclear. Bleams’ exception for the show was that “it might get people to think about the ramifications of spending so much time with virtual words,” he said.
“I didn’t have any expectations. I had never been to a show before, the script and story were easy to follow along, but there was an interesting plot twist too. I will absolutely go to the next production, and I’ll bring friends,” said Lauren Sertich, a sophomore at St. Cloud State.
The program is always looking for people who are interested in theatre. If a student is interested in majoring or minoring in theatre, all play and musical auditions are open to any St. Cloud State student. Though, many times the student actors and actresses are not theatre majors. Anyone who is interested in volunteering or gaining theatre experience is welcome.
“What a lot of audiences aren’t aware of is that for every show, there are people who have helped build scenery or build costumes. There are people backstage running the light board, the sound board, there is a stage manager who is sort of orchestrating everything, there are a lot of invisible people,” said Bleam.
The next chance to see or be a part of a production put on by the St. Cloud State Department of Theater will be in the upcoming fall. “We are collaborating with the musical department, and the weekend before Thanksgiving, we are doing a musical revue,” said Bleam. The production will instigate the positive and negative notations of the “American Dream” and the possibility of success in America.