By: RACHEL NUNER
Guest director Anna Kurtz Kuk and student actors Jordyn Nutting, Javon Barnes and Brad Pontius are hard at work as they prepare for their season opening performance of “The Understudy.”
The performances will run from Thursday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Oct. 25, in the Upstage of Northside Hall. Ticket prices range from $5 to $9 and admission is free for students and children. See below for time details.
Written by Theresa Rebeck, The Understudy pays homage to one of the most prominent writers of the nineteenth and twentieth century, Franz Kafka. Though Kafka is generally known for his bizarre and oppression-themed literary works, “The Understudy” is more so perceived as a lighthearted piece.
“The Understudy’ follows a disgruntled stage manager, a Hollywood action star and an underrated understudy on their quest to bring Kafka to Broadway,” according to a press release from the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts. “Kuk strives to immerse the audience in a behind the scenes look at the actor experience.”
As a guest director from Illinois, it is Kuk’s first production at IUSB. Thus far, she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience.
“I have absolutely loved working with the IUSB theatre program because everyone here is really committed to creating an effective work environment and producing the best production possible,” Kuk said. “We’re trying to give the audience a more interactive theatre experience.”
Kuk was very involved with the fast-paced audition process.
“The students had both their initial audition and call back on the same night,” Kuk said. “They had a week to research Franz Kafka then rehearsals started right away.”
Rehearsals began during the first week of classes and now take place six days a week, often lasting at least three or four hours per rehearsal, Kuk said.
Jordyn Nutting, who plays the character of Roxanne, Javon Barnes, who plays the character of Jake, and Brad Pontius, who plays the character of Harry, are all seniors at IUSB. On top of six rehearsals a week, these students must also find time for their load of schoolwork as they prepare for graduation.
“The time commitment can be a bit crazy sometimes,” Nutting said, “I’m taking 18 credit hours this semester as well as working two jobs.”
Regardless of their full schedules, the actors still manage to have fun and enjoy their experiences.
“Overall, this has been a wonderful experience, and it has been a blast putting the show together,” Nutting said.
Nutting is not the only student actor who has managed to enjoy her experience regardless of a full schedule.
“There’s a feeling of being among family when you’re working so closely together especially since we always have fun with it,” Pontius said. “It’s only a three-person cast, but I feel like we all click really well.”
The cast and crew are expecting a great turn out for all of their shows and hope for an excitement-filled opening of the season.
8 pm Thursday, October 8-Saturday, October 10
2 pm Sunday, October 11
8 pm Friday, October 23-Saturday, October 24
2 pm Sunday, October 25
Upstage Theatre, Northside Hall
1825 Northside Boulevard, South Bend, IN 46615