I have a glorious problem. You see, this past week, the Sheridan College Theater and Dance Department presented its production of “Nunsense” in the Mars Theater. My faculty partner, Stephanie Koltiska and I are immensely proud of the students. But mostly, we are proud of the collaborative efforts from all involved to showcase the high quality of the group of students currently studying theater and dance at Sheridan College. The production process continually offered delightful surprises from our students, mainly in their individual abilities to grow as characters, actors, backstage personnel and as students in general. Now, that we’ve been given our cake and eaten a few slices of it, our problem is this: What do we do from here?
As the interim theater faculty for Sheridan College for the ‘18-’19 academic year, I came into this year with probably just as much anxiety as the students. So many expectations were in front of me, as were in front of all of them. For them, the expectations included discovering new friendships and demands that may not have been placed on them in high school theater studies. For me, the expectations included keeping a program afloat while meeting the challenge of advancing students in their individual educational paths.
Included in my expectations was to create the fall production for the college — no easy task in any circumstance. “Nunsense” became the winner of the shows I considered mainly because of the wide spectrum of personalities from which I had to choose. The range of characters was as diverse as my students; it would exhibit their propensity for musical theater and allow each of them to grow in their acting abilities, particularly with comic timing and comedic circumstances.
So, here I am, typing this as I ponder what to do next. A lot of people have been asking me how the department is doing, and the level of “quality” of the students. I’ve often responded that I don’t know when I entered this lottery, but I’m certain I won the grand prize. In getting to know these students, many of them made their decisions to attend Sheridan College because of the high quality of education mixed with the low cost of attendance, as we do get a lot of value for the dollar here. However, their decisions to attend Sheridan College had another common and inexplicable denominator. Somehow, they all “just knew” that it would be the right choice; no guidance but instinct.
I’m not much for believing in the stars aligning, nor am I very superstitious. But, I do believe that when students are given the adequate opportunity for challenge, all with positive support behind them, they will succeed. And, last week, succeed they did. If any of you were in attendance last week, I feel pretty confident in saying that theater artists and audience alike had a good time. Now, back to the problem. I have a hungry, ambitious crew of vibrant and eager students, and I have a spring production to provide. So, here are my thoughts. While a musical is quite popular, the students are here for a broader education, so two musicals in the year might not allow for the growth that would befit the program. Besides, most of the students did both “Nunsense” and the Sheridan College Theater Club’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” So, I think they’re ready for something new.
In addition, “Nunsense” gave these students quite a bit of a challenge in expanding their individual comedic instincts. But, in respect to diversification of their education, the next show might not be as funny, but no less enjoyable or thought-provoking.
However, the ensemble effort put forth by these students shows me that they can put forth some powerful character-based acting. Which, for a director, is a tremendous problem to have. Frankly, I feel like I might be able to throw anything at them, and they’ll be able to throw it right back.
I have several ideas in mind, but I feel like I can predict another wonderful show for you in the spring. Please feel free to keep up with us throughout the year!
I’ll see you at intermission!