The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

Geer, signing off
Geer, signing off
by Caleb Geer, Ad Manager/Web Editor • April 27, 2024

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Looking back at my time at Simpson
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It all started with soup. No, really, let me explain. I was so passionate about the soup in SubConnection as a first year that it caught the...

So long, farewell, I’ve got no more stories to tell
So long, farewell, I’ve got no more stories to tell
by Jenna Prather, Editor-in-chief • April 27, 2024

Unlike my fellow student media seniors who’ve written this before me, I came into Simpson knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I did independent...

FSP: Simpson’s entirely student-run production

Abby Hintz
The 2024 Festival of Short Plays company prepares to present “Legacy of Brecht” this week.

Simpson Productions opens its annual Festival of Short Plays (FSP) this Thursday, April 11, presenting “Brecht and his Legacy.” The company will perform three works: “The Exception and the Rule” by Bertolt Brecht, “This is a Chair” by Caryl Churchill and “Terminating” by Tony Kushner.

The festival, in its 21st year, is almost entirely student-produced, with minimal assistance from faculty members. Typically, the production has represented the “final project” of a senior theater major, but this year it showcases a sophomore director: Dorian Burke.

“As an underclassman director, I have a bit less experience in the theater program than the other senior directors,” Burke said. “This is something I’ve worked to overcome by getting advice from professors as I make artistic choices and making sure to do extra research into previous work surrounding my play and the playwright.”

Senior Wendy Soto, another director for this year’s festival, believes her experiences on each of the crews as a designer, actor and stage manager have prepared her well for the responsibility as she approaches it with an understanding of others’ roles.

“Directors have to think about and make decisions on lights, set, costumes, sound and any additions (like projections), on top of actually working with your actors,” she said. “If I didn’t have those experiences, I would have been very overwhelmed throughout the entire process.”

As a result, Soto says she has adopted a collaborative directing style, prioritizing input from everyone while also remaining true to Brecht’s vision.

“He had his version of epic theater where the audience should acknowledge we are in a theater and putting on the play,” she said. “That’s why actors are on stage during costume changes, and the set has abstract set pieces.”

In addition to three student directors (Burke, Soto and senior Sabrina Erickson), FSP also features student designers, including first-year lighting designer Jeri Eisbrenner.

Eisbrenner became fascinated with lighting design after serving as the lightboard operator for “Into The Woods.”

“I loved that the lighting instantly changed the mood of whatever scene we were in,” they said. “I wanted to try creating this vision on my own.” 

Eisbrenner has found the experience to be incredibly fulfilling.

“Being a designer has given me a full scope of the internal workings of a show,” they said. “Lighting design has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of my theater career.”

The festival is immensely important for theater students as well as the department.

“I think there’s a lot of value in a show that is entirely produced by students,” Burke said. “We get to see ideas and creativity from the students, which shows off all of the art that we put our hearts and souls into throughout our time at Simpson.”

However, it appears Simpson Productions will be taking a break from FSP next year as it is missing from the 2024-25 season announcement, seemingly replaced with a touring show at the end of next April. This will be the second time this decade that FSP will not happen. The first time was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For several students, the festival has been a great opportunity to be introduced to, or reacquainted with, the world of theater on a manageable level.

“I saw it as a way to get back into acting without the insane time and mental commitment of a full-length production,” said junior Brandon Barkey, who will be performing in “This is a Chair.” 

“It has been great to get back into an old hobby and meet a bunch of people who share that same love,” Barkey said.

Junior Hannah Brewer shared a similar sentiment. “I think FSP is a lot more encouraging of non-theater majors and people who might not have enough time for the bigger productions.”

She also believes it can serve as a gateway into further theatrical participation. Hannah first acted in last year’s FSP and has since performed in “Into the Woods” and “A Beautiful Day” during Simpson’s current theater season.

“It’s a good place to learn how Simpson theater works if you’re new or don’t have a whole lot of experience,” she said.

Eisbrenner agrees. “It’s a very rewarding experience. Even if you’re not a theater major, all of the things you learn by doing theater are applicable to other aspects of your life,” they said. “I’d suggest everyone try it at least once.”

You can certainly assume the role of audience member in Barnum Theatre on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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About the Contributors
Anna Schewe
Anna Schewe, Staff Reporter
Abby Hintz
Abby Hintz, ID Magazine Editor-in-Chief & Layout Editor

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