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Monday, October 18, 2021

Thespians of Studio 301 tackle their first comedic farce

Studio 301 is throwing a party, and everyone is invited.

The student-run campus theater company will present Rumors, by playwright Neil Simon, beginning tomorrow night. The play will be performed at Wyatt Pavilion and tickets are $10 for students.

Rumors centers around an anniversary party thrown by a wealthy couple and the hijinks that ensue when things don’t quite go according to plan.

“As the friends start to arrive, they notice that the hostess is missing, and the host has a gunshot wound in his ear upstairs,” said co-director Jazz Trice. “As everyone is piling into the house they are trying to find a way to hide the secret from their friends, or decide whether they should tell them or not.”

Trice, a fifth-year senior majoring in dramatic arts, said Studio 301 chose Rumors as its next production because its themes are so relevant to a student audience.

“Everyone has been influenced by rumors somehow: they’ve had rumors spread about them, or heard rumors about someone or helped to spread rumors about someone else,” he said. “We were really interested in the lengths that people will go to defend their reputation or not be seen by what people think of them.”

Though the company has performed comedies before, Rumors will be Studio 301’s first-ever farce, Trice said.

“So much of the humor is in the text and the way it’s written. As actors we tend to want to make it our own and add our own little nuances to make it funny,” he said. “The great thing about Neil Simon is he’s a genius, and he’s written it beautifully so we don’t have to do much work besides staying true to his text.”

Co-director Ulysses Morazan said Rumors is the first play he’s ever directed. The biggest challenge, he said, was that the cast only had three and a half weeks to rehearse.

“As soon as we cast the actors we were already doing photo shoots and rehearsals from six to 11 at night. We didn’t have a lot of downtime between casting and the rehearsal process,” said Morazan, a senior dramatic arts major. “Everyone had to be on top of their game and organized going into the production.”

Malia Abayan, a senior human development and dramatic arts double major, said Rumors is her first Studio 301 play, though she has also acted in theater department productions. She said her character, Cookie, is one of the more unusual ones in the production.

“She kind of brings this wackiness to the whole play,” she said. “It’s the kind of person you have to invite to a party but you don’t really want to.”

Abayan said mastering the fast-paced comedy of Simon’s script has been a challenge for the cast.

“Timing is a big thing in comedy, and this is a farce so a lot of things go really fast,” she said. “We were just off book last week so we’ve been trying to get our cues down without reading. “It’s been really hard because if one person misses something it messes up the whole next page of dialogue.”

Not that it’s not worth it, she added. “It’s a challenge but it’s a fun challenge.”

Trice said Rumors offers the chance to take a break from studying and unwind with great comedy.

“If you’ve never seen theater or aren’t a regular theatergoer it’s totally fun and it’s a great experience. There’s something for everyone,” he said. “There’s a lot of great comedy and costumes to look at and it’s really exciting and a great atmosphere for everyone.”

Morazan added that Rumors will not be a predictable show.

“You cannot stop laughing and one thing happens right after another. You’re always going to be on the edge of your seat. Either a gunshot’s going off or someone’s breaking something,” he said. “It’s great.”

Rumors will be performed Thursday to Saturday and Nov. 10 to 13 at 8 p.m. as well as Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. For more information, go to Studio 301’s Facebook page.

ROBIN MIGDOL can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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