A tale of two plays at university tryouts

Thursday, August 22, 2002

On the Rose Theatre stage, Dr. Robert Dillon Jr. exhorted actors and actresses to express more and louder as they recited monologues from Greek tragedies.

At the end of September, he will bring a modern tragedy, "Sainte-Carmen of the Main," to that very stage.

A short distance away in the Lab Theater, the scene was completely different. Dennis C. Seyer listened to pairs of actors and actresses read from the hilarious script of "Don't Dress for Dinner," the sex farce he will direct in mid-November.

Twenty actors and actresses tried out, most for roles in both plays. Though the auditions were advertised as open in an attempt to get members of the community to try out for parts, only two non-students showed up.

University Theatre auditions always have been open to the community but have only been advertised in the past when there was a need to fill roles, says Dr. Kenn Stilson, chairman of the Department of Music and Dance.

"Now we're trying to make a conscious decision of including the community in all our shows," he said. "That has to do with the new School of Visual and Performing Arts and the River Campus."

Different experiences

The two auditions presage two extremely different theater experiences in store for University Theatre audiences this fall. Where "Sainte-Carmen of the Main" will present challenging characterizations and a starkly abstract set, "Don't Dress for Dinner" is all about fast-paced dialogue and arched eyebrows.

Dillon instructed Janel Mason, a University Players veteran, to do her monologue a second time while transforming her body into a man's. At Dillon's urging, Casee Hagan recited hers over and over again while threatening to throw a chair.

He soon had Meagan Edmonds, whose monologue began with the word "Oh," stretching that word into a prolonged wail.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Dillon said, "That 'Oh' is more like Greek drama."

Below in the Lab Theatre, the actors and actresses who weren't on stage were cracking up over the exchange between Tim Nicolai and James Adams.

Adultery was the subject. It was still the subject when time came for the women to read.

Suzanne: "Give him a taste of his own medicine. Treat him the way he treats you."

Jacqueline: "Give him gloves for Christmas?"

There were good readings, flat readings and readings that hinted at being able to bring down the house come November.

Back up in the Rose Theatre, Dillon prodded a wail from another actress.

"Let the irony just become creeping," he said.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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