University Players Kicks Off 65th Season With Announcement of Next Year’s Shows
The University Players, UWindsor’s main theatre company, has just announced their selection of shows for next year’s season, and as the company’s 65th season, it’s coming in with a bang. Kristen Siapas, the company’s Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator is excited to let audiences know what’s in store.
“There’s going to be lots of classic works with a modern twist. We have comedies like The Play That Goes Wrong, family titles like Little Women, as well as some more classical titles like The Glass Menagerie and Macbeth.”
Siapas says that audiences can certainly expect a range of genres that everybody can enjoy and that will really showcase the students’ talents. She highlights that “The play That Goes Wrong will especially show students’ capabilities and allow them to really push themselves to the edge of their talents.”
When it comes to how students are involved with the shows, it’s as more than just actors. Siapas says that while the third and fourth-year students do make up the majority of main casts for the shows, first and second-year students have the opportunity to work on the shows as stage hands, behind the scenes technicians, and other such crew.
She says students within the University Players company, and BFA acting and drama programs, aren’t the only ones allowed to help out with the show; “We have students from many different programs that gain the opportunity to work on the shows by taking some of our workshop classes that are offered as electives. As well as volunteer opportunities as ushers during the show season.”
Siapas thinks this is the best part about the University Players, and theatre at UWindsor; the opportunity for professional, hands on learning.
“It’s that combination of experiential learning for our students. Every fourth year is guaranteed a lead role in at least two shows, and students in other years gain experience, and credits, through volunteer, and sometimes paid positions in stage managing, tech work, etc. It’s run like a professional theatre company, so students get to experience the pace and aspects of the industry before they truly entre it.”
And the consensus among the students of the program is that they are just as grateful for the hands-on experience. Fourth year BFA student Annie Roberts, says, “being a part of University Players gives you experience with a professional company, with a typical six-week rehearsal process to boost your resume before you go out into the industry.” For Annie, it’s a really interesting training program because of the specific type of training it provides.
“It provides conservatory training in voice, movement, and acting in a university context, so you’re getting practical, on-your-feet experience while also learning about the theoretical and historical side of things.” They say there is also lots of encouragement for personal work. “There’s a big focus on devising and creating your own work so you can make more opportunities for yourself in live performance.”
Georgie Savoie, fourth year BFA student, says “what the ensemble program focuses on is so important. I’ve had a great time here working with my ensemble, even when we had to switch into online learning during the pandemic; we definitely persevered.”
Savoie says that even though she wont be with the University Players when their 65th season kicks off in the fall, she can’t wait to see all the shows. She’s especially excited for The Play That Goes Wrong. “It’s a super technical show with a lot of moving parts that I can’t wait to see next year’s company have the chance to work with.”
Siapas is in agreement with Savoie on what show to look forward to. “The Play That Goes Wrong, one-hundred percent. It will be the funniest show. The professional show itself just began touring and we’re one of the first companies to put the show on in Ontario.” She says, “It’s a very demanding show, but hilarious and very rewarding.”
The show goes along with the theme of the 65th season: Dreams and Delight. Siapas says that a theme often seems to emerge throughout the course of planning for a season, but that they don’t necessarily start there.
“There are a lot of competing needs when putting together a selection. We consider past audience numbers and reviews to make sure a show will sell, as well as considering the opinions of our students and faculty members. We always make sure there is a flow to the variety of shows we put on, that the genres connect, and through that process a theme does start to form.”
Some examples of themes from past seasons include “Power in Politics”, and a sort of “Look Through the Past” during the University Players anniversary season where they showcased a timeline of passed productions.
Siapas says the 65th season will showcase much lighter emotions, that “it’s a sort of light, celebratory vibe this season,” but that the shows will still allow students to challenge themselves and present their talents.
As a final message to the students and faculty at UWindsor, Siapas wants people to know that while the 65th season my still be a few months away, the 64th season isn’t over yet as it’s final show, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, is still running. “Twelfth Night is open right now, running till April 2nd. It’s a very funny and classic Shakespeare story, and students can get tickets at the box office or online for $10.” She also want people to know that for any students interested in season tickets for next year, there are student packages available for $30.
“Theatre makes for a great night out, so come see us and enjoy the shows!”