An Actor’s Perspective, Part 2

By Abram Yarbro and Holly Mancuso

Microburst Theatre Festival opened last week, and it has been great to have an audience. As Lee Hall explained in an interview, “Whether you are a writer, or an actor, or a stage manager, you are trying to express the complications of life through a shared enterprise. That’s what theatre was, always. And live performance shares that with an audience in a specific compact: the play is unfinished unless it has an audience, and they are as important as everyone else.”

This week we’re fortunate to hear from actors Clayton and Madison about performing and producing this show.

“It’s week two of the run, and we could not be more excited to get back in the Margetts! Our names are Madison Dennis and Clayton Cranford, and we’re two of the actors in Microburst. Our fellow cast mates and good friends Emily and Cooper talked a bit about the rehearsal process and working with the playwrights, so we thought we’d share some of our experiences performing these ten-minute plays, thus far.”

Clayton Cranford and Madison Dennis

Clayton Cranford and Madison Dennis

Clayton Cranford plays Evan in The Piano Room, Mr. Samson in Different But EquaI, Dad in Memory Jar, and Fletcher in D&D and the Big Date. Madison Dennis plays Mila in The Piano Room, Jeanne in Different But Equal, Stephanie in A Death in the Family, and Josephine in D&D and the Big Date. 

“One of the most challenging parts of performing in this production is moving from character to character. Not only does it take extreme focus to flip in and out of distinctly different characters in little to no time, we also have to deal with the technical aspects that go along with that:  hair, make-up, clothing, shoes, accessories, and so on.  Thankfully, the set list (or the way the shows were ordered) was done so each of us actors only have one show back to back. These quick changes require us to re-enter the stage with new clothes, hair, physicality (which can include vocal placement or dialect!) and frame of mind within a matter of seconds, minutes if we’re lucky. But the challenge is also what makes this production so exciting to be a part of; it stretches you as a performer. And talk about an adrenaline rush!

The Piano Room, the opening play in Microburst

The Piano Room, the opening play in Microburst

And as wonderful as it is to perform these characters, and it really is wonderful, the most enjoyable part of being in this production has been working with such incredible people.  Everyone involved with this production knows that it’s all about George.  He’s been delightful to work with; he is incredibly supportive in his directing approach and makes what he wants very clear. Thanks to his leadership, everyone is on the same page, which saves lots of time and energy when tech week comes. The stage managers and dramaturgs have been just as wonderful to work with. The playwrights have all been incredibly supportive and giving. And getting the opportunity to work so closely with Emily and Cooper has been a blast. There’s been a great energy on this production from day one, and we believe that plays a significant role in any production’s success. We are very lucky to be surrounded by such talented, warm, giving people.

We hope you’re able to come see us this week!”

Make sure you get your tickets for Microburst, which runs through Saturday, March 14th. Check out for more information.

An Actor’s Perspective

by Abram Yarbro, dramaturg

10431515_10203807448002568_645819162647585720_n 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.

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Emily Lyons

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. Continue reading

Trading Spaces and Staging Plays

By Holly Mancuso, dramaturg

When most people think of a theatre, they imagine something like this:

The Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud, Minnesota

The Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud, Minnesota

There is a stage with a curtain and a specific place for the action to occur. The audience sits in fixed permanent chairs, often on a lower level than the stage. It features a proscenium arch, or the arch framing the space between the auditorium and the stage.

However, many theatres and performance spaces are set up differently. For example, the famous Globe Theatre in London, where many of Shakespeare’s plays where originally performed, had an almost full circle of seats and included a space for audience members to stand as well as sit. This allowed for multiple vantage points, and could drastically change what parts of the show you focused on. Continue reading

7 Plays, 1 Show. What is Microburst?

by Abram Yarbro, dramaturg

I always buy my movies with the “extra features” disc. On there you find interviews with the cast, behind-the-scene photos and videos, bloopers, and all sorts of neat material. In theatre we can’t give you an extra features DVD but we have this blog, the 4th Wall, where we give you the backstage scoop on BYU’s newest show, Microburst Theatre Festival! Check here often for interviews with the creative team, glimpses into rehearsals, and the most up-to-date information about this exciting show.

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Some of the Microburst scripts

What is Microburst Theatre Festival?

Microburst Theatre Festival is one show made up of seven ten minute plays written by BYU students. The plays are brand new, in fact this is their world premiere! Isn’t that exciting?

Wasn’t there a Microburst Theatre Festival last season? Is this the same show?

BYU held its first Microburst Theatre Festival last year and it won three national awards at the 2014 Kennedy Center for American College Theater Festival. This year features seven new plays. The title is the same but the plays are brand new.

How do we perform seven plays in one night?

We have a core cast comprising of five talented actors and who perform multiple roles. For example, in the play Goodnight, Graham our actress Emily is a tired nurse trying to survive the night shift at the hospital in but only a few minutes later she plays a seductive con artist at a fancy restaurant in Playing Around. Jumping from character to character is difficult but our actors love the challenge!

Rehearsals are under way, and sometimes under the table...

Rehearsals are under way, and sometimes under the table…

What are the plays about? Continue reading