by Abram Yarbro, dramaturg
Betty Davis said, “Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.” We are fortunate to have a very talented cast for Microburst Theatre Festival. Usually an actor plays one role in a show but in Microburst, each actor plays multiple roles which requires them to quickly jump from one character to another. These actors have worked hard to discover the “wonder and insight” in each play. This week we asked two of the actors, Emily and Cooper, to share their thoughts on the show and the production process.
Emily Lyons plays Jade in Playing Around, Stephanie in A Death in the Family, Maggie in D&D and the Big Date, and Jane in Goodnight, Graham.
“My experience with Microburst so far can be summed up in two words: fun and scary. This play has been fun from the very first callback. Playing original roles has allowed me to put so much of myself into every character. Even though I’m playing four different women, they are essentially four different versions of myself. It has been so fun to experience the development of the plays and to work with such a small cast. As an actor, this show has made my work feel important.
So that’s the fun part. The scary part is sitting across from the inventors of the characters I am playing as I experiment with their creations. These plays are the writers’ babies, and I am the brace-faced babysitter nervously bouncing their offspring on my knee, trying to keep it from crying.
Putting this work in front of an audience will be equally scary. With a well-known show, the work already has a history of being entertaining as long as the performance is solid. With this new work, we have no idea how an audience is going to react. The cast is small and the set is minimal, which means the quality of the performance essentially rests on the shoulders of we actors. Microburst is for workshopping and showcasing these playwrights, so if I don’t do my job, I am doing everyone an injustice. No pressure!!!
Acting in general is both fun and scary. A good performance requires a level of vulnerability from an actor that can be intimidating to provide, but if achieved gives such a feeling of satisfaction. I’m excited for all the fun and scariness ahead as audiences finally get to see all the work we’ve put into this show! Come and see it!!!!”
Cooper Sutton plays Jase in Playing Around, Hunter in A Death in the Family, Jeff in Memory Jar, and Graham in Goodnight, Graham.
“When we first began meeting for Microburst, we started out doing table readings. We would all come together, the playwright, the director, the stage manager, the dramaturgs, and us actors, to discuss the plays. We were able to build off of each others’ ideas, and adjust and improve each night. One of my favorite parts of our rehearsals was to come in each night and receive a new script. On Tuesday my character, Jase, would leave the scene and his girlfriend, Jade, would have a scene with her father. On Wednesday, Jase got to stick around and a whole new scene with Jade developed. It was a work in progress, and we progressively saw things improving. Soon we had the plays on their feet, and as we blocked and added all the various action to them, the playwrights were there working and adjusting the scripts. As our wonderful director, George Nelson said, ‘This is about the playwrights’, and it has been an exciting journey working together to bring these plays to life.”
Microburst Theatre Festival opens Thursday, March 5 and runs through Saturday, March 14. Tickets are available at arts.byu.edu.