The magic of Pippin

DRA 143 / COURTESY

Students in Drama 143 stage play as part of class

The students of Drama 143 have been working all quarter to put on a special preview of the musical Pippin, and their hard work will soon be visible to the public. The students will be performing the first 20 pages of the production on March 15, with all of the students in the class involved in acting, directing, choreographing or taking part in the technical side. This class provides students with hands-on experience in successfully creating a show and all the facets that go into it.

Mindy Cooper, the theatre department’s current Granada artist in residence and the teacher for Drama 143, believes in the notion of musical theater process production and performance. For her class, the students studied the original and revival script of Pippin and did historical research on the characters. Each student became a collaborator on a team.

“It takes a village and I asked them to become a village,” Cooper said.

The students had to work together to come up with their vision of the first 20 pages. Half of the class served as the collaborators who brainstormed an artistic direction, while the other half will serve as the performers, tasked with bringing the vision to life. The quarter started with table work and discussing all the roles, scripts and historical background research. Then, the second half of the term focused on auditions and actually staging the first 20 pages.

The students felt that the auditions themselves were a great teaching exercise because they were held in class in front of everyone, a process that was a little frightening, but also revealing.

“It became a safe environment where they could all learn from each other,” Cooper said.

Koreena Walsh, a fourth-year theatre and dance major, plays the lead role of Pippin.

“When everyone was in the room to audition, everyone is nervous so that makes you feel better,” Walsh said. “I was totally shocked at the casting because sitting and watching the auditions you have a good feeling as to who will get what part but when it came down to receiving the cast list I was completely surprised.”

Walsh is also a member of the costume design team. Because there is no budget for the class performance, the design team decided to channel the musical’s theme of things lost and found, using things that are already around and using make-believe props.  

Cameron Turner, a third-year theatre and dance major, is one of the three student directors as well as one of the actors. To Turner, one of the exciting parts of the class is the opportunity to adapt the script to the class’s vision and to help make Pippin relatable to UC Davis students.

“We are learning as we are going,” Turner said. “The main theme is bringing magic to our daily lives as students. It’s about when we find our lives boring and how we can bring the magic to our different situations as students and as a collaborative group and create this magical piece of Pippin.”

The play will be staged in the Wright Hall’s Arena Stage on March 15 at 1 p.m. All are welcome, and the cast and crew will hold a discussion about their creative process after the performance.

 

Written by: CaraJoy Kleinrock — arts@theaggie.org