MC Theatre to present “Our Stories on Stage” and “An Evening of Improv!” April 22-23

MC Theatre to present “Our Stories on Stage” and “An Evening of Improv!” April 22-23

April 12, 2019 

The Maryville College Theatre Department will present “Our Stories on Stage” and “An Evening of Improv!” April 22-23, 2019 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Haslam Family Flexible Theatre.

All performances are free and open to the public. 

“Our Stories on Stage”

“Our Stories on Stage” is a series of performances guided by Lisa Soland, MC adjunct instructor of theatre, and created by students in her THT349: Advanced Playwriting class. In honor of Maryville College’s Bicentennial, the stories will blend the old and the new, with stories from influential people in the life of the College, as well as stories that are meaningful for the students of today.

Performances will be held Mon., April 22 at 8 p.m. and Tues., April 23 at 8 p.m. New material will be presented on both nights, so each night will be an opportunity for an altogether different experience, Soland said.

“It isn’t every day a college has a bicentennial year,” Soland said, adding that she jumped at the opportunity to incorporate that theme into her plans for this semester’s theatrical offering.

The presentation will include original material written by students in Soland’s playwriting class: Holly Brennan, Diamond Cronan, Anna Dieter, Cameron Freshour, Brianna Gibson, Riley Hamant, Bailey Holt, Hallie Lafon, Leonard Lively, Makayla Nance, Alison Parton and Blake Shepard.

The combination of monologues and short plays will be performed by some of the students in the class, as well as professional actors from outside Maryville College. Some of the performances will be rehearsed readings, so “the students can continue to alter the pieces right up until the day they are performed,” Soland said.

“The students will also be submitting their plays to theatre organizations all across the country, in hopes of getting a production somewhere else and starting to build a ‘Playwright Resume’ early in the game,” Soland said. “We have sent some of the monologues to an acting class in Texas that will be filming the plays and sending them back to us. It will be very exciting to see how other students interpret the work that we send them.

“I know that audiences will be pleasantly surprised at the quality and depth of the work,” the professor continued. “These young people are not to be underestimated, and the work this year is at an all-time high because the students have worked very hard to understand the concepts of creating viable stories which are well-deserving of being told on stage.” 

“An Evening of Improv!”

“An Evening of Improv!” is hosted by Dr. Heather McMahon, MC associate professor of theatre, and performed by students in her THT249: Improvisation in the Theatre class.

Performances will be held Mon., April 22 at 10 p.m. and Tues., April 23 at 10 p.m.

The showcase will demonstrate some of the exercises that are experienced in McMahon’s class, and audience members might recognize some of the improv games from television shows like “Whose Line is It Anyway?”

“The most valuable thing about the course is the fact that the students come to find that the skills which they learn are life skills - not just acting class skills,” McMahon said. “The students have been building valuable skills, like the ability to think on their feet, trust their instincts and ‘getting out of their own way’ by getting out of their own heads and trusting themselves and their partners. Improvisation prepares actors for both scripted and non-scripted work, as well as for auditions.”

McMahon said the course objectives are to develop self-sufficiency in each actor so that they are better able to prepare for rehearsals, auditions and performances (even when there is no director); increase each actor’s spontaneity and creativity in both scripted and non-scripted work; enhance the actor’s ability to make bold choices and create compelling characters; encourage the actor to utilize the body and voice more consciously and effectively; and reinforce the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

“Improv promotes a social imperative to agree, rather than disagree, for the good of the overall performance and try to add something helpful, as individuals, to the conversation, in the doing so,” the professor said. “Honestly, that sounds like a great person to have around, and this is a wonderful way to think about our lives.

“The evening will certainly be fun and informative,” she added.

Improv actors include: Cassity Bradley, Bailee Burleson, Meridith Daffron, Anna Dieter, Danielle Everett, Cameron Freshour, Riley Hamant, Hallie Lafon, Allison Parton, Christopher Rodriguez and Blake Shepard.

Written by Jeremy Law '19

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”