Get ready to Move with new original show
As the school year comes to an end, it seems as though there is a new event happening every weekend in Runnals. These performances highlight the skill and talent of professors and students in music, dance and theater alike.
On April 26-28, however, the building will boast the creative potential of Colby students as it premieres an entirely student-created and developed production in the Cellar Theater.
The show, titled Move: The Summer of 1963, is part of the Theater and Dance Department’s annual Performance Lab Series program, which supports projects that give students the resources to produce a show based on their voices and visions.
Move tells the story of two men, played by sophomores Jeremy Gooden and Dan Kirby, working as movers during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Gooden plays John, an older African American more concerned about his job and family’s safety than stating his beliefs, while Kirby takes on the role of Mark, a white college student working at the moving company for the summer, who is vocal about his dedication to the cause. Through discussions and arguments, the show explores racial, social and political disconnects, as well as the separation of idealism and realism during one of the most turbulent periods of American history.
Leading the project is Delaney McDonough ’13, a Montclair, N.J. native double majoring in theater and dance and history, along with an impressive artistic team of Colby students. From almost nothing, they have made Move into a production featuring original scripts, scores and choreography, and little intervention from faculty or staff advisors.
Working closely with McDonough are Sujie Zhu ’14 (scenographer), Oliver Dunne ’14 (sound design), Ty Steinhauser ’14 (historian), Jack Gobillot ’14 (playwright) and Lindsay DiBartholomeo ’14 (stage manager). The project was approved and is being supervised by Assistant Professors of Theater and Dance Todd Coulter and Annie Kloppenberg.
The process was underway by the beginning of this semester, with each member of the team responsible for a specific aspect of the show’s development. For example, Dunne is working with music from the period to create a historically accurate and relevant score. “I am mostly using music from the year 1963,” he said. “I also explored the possibilities of using samples of speeches made during the year, like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream.’” Combining original composition and already-famous music, Dunne got involved with the production after showing McDonough samples of music he had already created.
Despite the large role the individuals play, the focus is still on the collective. The artistic team meets every Friday in Foss Dining Hall for a working lunch to update one another on progress and establish goals for the week’s rehearsals. McDonough also explained the choice of time and location as a way to “stay connected to the audience we’re trying to reach.”
Dunne explained that just because one person has a certain role does not mean that he is not allowed to give feedback on peers’ work. “If I have an idea for the script, I’ll tell Jack [Gobillot], or if Ty [Steinhauser] finds a speech that he thinks would be great in the score, he’ll tell me which parts are important to mention.” Without this communication and flexibility, he said, the show would just be a series of parts.
When asked what she found to be most unique about the show, McDonough said she was struck by “all the people and all the art forms involved. We’ve been calling it a performance piece because there’s the play, but there’s also the dancers, and the music and the projections.” Dunne felt the same way and added that the independent nature of the students in charge makes the show different and something interesting for the community to see. “Not having daily interaction with advisors really makes the group self-sufficient.”
Underneath the hard work and impressive product that has been created thus far, one can see that ultimately, what really drives the show is passion. Each member of the artistic team feels a connection to the role they play, Dunne explained. “For me, I love to make music and it’s a hobby that I’ve had for a long time. It was fun to do this and challenge myself in a new way,” he said.
McDonough added that what drives her to make Move a success is a commitment to “the story we’re telling and to the cast. I want to give them the opportunity to feel as passionately about this time period as I do. I want the story to feel believable not just in the context of 1963 but to our own lives. Mark, the young college kid in the story, is all of us. He’s written to be everything we, as a generation, are afraid to be.”
Besides being a work of historical fiction, McDonough emphasizes, “Move is about what’s in the way. It’s about what’s in the way of understanding each other, of friendship, of making change and of being a part of progress.”
When the curtain rises and falls on opening weekend, audience members will undoubtedly be affected by the impressive work done by the artistic team and the cast, but what McDonough hopes they will take away from the show is a recognition of the show’s relevance and the need for discussion. Despite the historical setting, she explained, “I want to talk to people about it,” she said. “Not the show itself, exactly. At the end of an evening-long dance piece about Sly and the Family Stone, a 60s rock band called Prophets of Funk by David Dorfman Dance, that I saw this past summer, David came on stage and said simply, ‘Thank you all for coming, art begins the discussion, goodnight.’ I want to have those discussions, and my goal is for others to have them as well.”