I cannot say this is my last show at Gannon as a student as I will be here for an extra semester, but this is one of them (depending on how hectic student teaching is). This semester, I was an acolyte and in the ensemble for Mary Zimmerman’s “White Snake.” This was the show where my entire theater experience as a college student came back and hit me in the face before I left.
“White Snake” tells the story of a shape-shifting snake spirit who travels to the Chinese city of Hongzhou to serve Xu Xian, the reincarnation of a man who gave her the ability to self-cultivate in order to make it to the ranks of the immortals. After White Snake marries Xu Xian and opens a pharmacy where she uses her magic powers to treat the sick people of China, a sinister Buddhist monk by the name of Fa Hai tries to stop the snake spirit’s presence in the mortal world.
My mainstage Schuster Theater debut was in a show called “Whimsical Grimm,” where I had to operate three different puppets. In this show, I do not have to operate puppets, but the snakes (when they are in snake form) are puppets. This reminded me of my first show here. Later on, we took “Whimsical Grimm” to the Fringe Fest in Edinburgh Scotland and I ended up playing the dog and the door. For this show, we had fellow Edge staffer Gabe Fulgenzio play the door to the pharmacy. That was another reminder of my time performing with Gannon’s theater department.
Throughout my time as a theater major, I took many classes including Scene Technology, Voice and Diction, Directing and Writing For the Stage and Screen. In this show, elements from those classes pleasantly hung around my mind all at once. The pronunciation of Chinese terms reminds me of all the pronouncing exercises we did in Voice and Diction, the stage pictures remind me of Directing and the poetry in the script brings me back to Writing For the Stage and Screen where I learned to write plays. In this show, I realized everything I had done during my time at Gannon in order to work my way up to a theater degree.
I suppose the one thing I really liked about my experience here was the opportunity to explore different aspects of theater, whether it’s sound design, directing, acting or any other behind-the-scenes role. As someone who plans to direct plays for children and teenagers, I think this provided me with many things I need to know in order to achieve that goal.
I am not sure what theater experiences I will have once I graduate. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I also like the idea of keeping my options open because I never know what opportunities I will have. I do hope I get to do something for the Schuster Theater during my last semester, even if it’s the most basic behind-the-scenes role available so I can declare my official last hurrah as a theater major.