New student organization develops student-driven theater
By Deneia Washington
“Vibrant culture,” describes the expected outcome of student drive in the Theater Department. With constant streams of student produced productions but moderate student engagement, one sought out to rejuvenate the culture of student theater. Junior Alex Monsell felt fit for the task.
“We have this structure, we have this set up, and we have this constitution already written. I’m just gonna take it, I’m just gonna run very, very quickly towards getting the shows done. So that’s what I’ve been doing since,” says Monsell, who transferred to Temple University last fall.
[caption id="attachment_695" align="alignleft" width="100"] Alex Monsell[/caption]
With an attitude of “jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” Monsell comes with varying experience in theater as a result of his work with Lumina Studio Theater in Silver Spring, MD that includes acting, directing, lighting, and sound.
Student Theater Season, now an official student organization, leaves the management and execution of regular performances in the hands of the students. Monsell feels that this effectively initiates collaboration and acts as a safe space for mistakes to be made into daily learning experiences.
But Student Theater Season is not only of benefit to students. It extends an opportunity for faculty to be creative while administering advice and support to students. This advising system makes it so that faculty can work closely with students on projects that are related to their professional interests.
“Faculty is now directly connecting with those students. It’s a way to take the mentorship program we kind of have in the whole connect-with-your-adviser, asking questions; it’s a way to take that to another level,” Monsell says. “Not only am I asking you a few questions about ‘how to’ hypothetical scenario’s, I can ask you directly and you can help me directly and turn it into real world experience.”
As Temple promotes diversity amongst students, Monsell places emphasis on reaching out to other organizations with no affiliation with theater in order to help create informed artists with knowledge of what they are creating. “You can’t just be an artist in a closed little bubble, you have to listen and understand the need and the conversation about the community around you,” says Monsell. “It’s art; and you can’t do it improperly.”
Student Theater Season is also helpful to non-theater majors with peaked interests in various aspects of the arts. “We’ve had at least a couple of designers say, ‘I’m an engineer, but I did theatrical design in high school and I really want to practice my craft’ and it’s great because we don’t have many designers,” states Monsell.
In a larger sense, he believes that this type of collaboration will have a positive effect on pushing students out of their comfort zone to band together across the university, showing support to organizations that are different from their own, thus creating an influx of returned support. Monsell explains, “Even though you might not have a friend in that show, you might go support them and now they’ll come and support you. That’s having a dialogue of artists.”
Monsell sees involvement in Student Theater Season as one of the best opportunities to prepare oneself for the professional world.
“Do what you’re here for,” says Monsell. ”This is your time to explore and to say some wild and outlandish things to see what works and what doesn’t work.”
There are four upcoming productions scheduled for Student Theater Season, including Putting It Together and Indian Wants the Bronx this fall in the Randall Theater. Check out Temple Theaters social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for more information about the shows in September. Want to be involved? Email Alex at TempleTheaterSS@gmail.com.