Latest theatre production brings drama into Esch

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“The Totalitarians” is a comedy about corruption in politics. This corruption is displayed through a campaign manager, Francine, who would bend morals to have a successful candidate; a ditzy Nebraska candidate, Penelope Easter, who would go to any lengths to win; an extremist, Ben, who uses a traumatic childhood to validate his actions and an average joe, Jeffrey, who jumps onto the exciting and terrifying conspiracy theories he hears.

This play was performed by the University of Indianapolis theatre department students on Dec. 1-4 and Dec. 8-10. Francine was played by senior theatre education major MacKinsey Taylor, Penelope Easter was played by freshman theatre major Katie Carter, Ben was played by junior theatre major Tyrell Harris and Jeffrey was played by senior theatre major Tim Allen.

Taylor said that the show is one of the edgier shows performed at UIndy during her career as a student, noting the heavy use of profanity.

“I’ve been in a couple [of edgy productions] since I’ve been here. My freshman year I did ‘Love Song,’ and that was a little more edgy, too. But I feel like this one was definitely the most edgy [show] I’ve done, especially being on stage in my underwear, cursing as much as I am,” Taylor said. “It’s a little worrisome, I guess, wondering how some people are going to react to it, if they’re going to like it or not and what they’re going to take away from it. But it’s definitely nice to push that envelope and do something a little more out there, out-of-the-box. I think it’s a lot more fun to do and to hone in on that kind of character that I’m not used to being.”

“The Totalitarians” was performed in the black box theatre under Ransburg Auditorium, which Taylor said makes for an intimate and nerve-racking experience.

“It’s still a little nerve-racking, especially being in that close proximity with everyone, but that’s the space I’ve worked in [the] most. I did a show last year in that space, too. It’s a lot more intimate than being up in Ransburg, where the audience is farther away from you. It’s a little more intimidating when you can feel everyone right there and [feel] all the eyes. But I just kind of have to picture that no one’s actually there and stay connected to the other actors on stage and stay focused. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re like, ‘I know that person.’”

Freshman technical theatre major Liesel Schmitz enjoyed the humor in the production and paid close attention to the comedic detail.

“I really enjoyed the comedy aspect. I think they brought that to life really well. The little interjections they had really brought the show to life,” Schmitz said.

Freshman performance theatre major Brayton Lipperd found the comedic element of the show enjoyable but also appreciated the more sentimental moments.

“Overall, it was very comedic but I liked the sincere interjections they had,” Lipperd said.

Schmitz would like the opportunity for more people to participate in future shows that the theatre department puts on.

“I’d like to see a little more people involved in the show. The two shows this year have been smaller casts, so I’d like to see one that involves more of the department,” Schmitz said.

Noting that there has been more emphasis on comedic shows this semester, Lipperd would like to see something a little more dramatic.

“I’d like to see a drama,” Lipperd said. “I know the next show we’re doing is a farce, so that’s going to be three comedic shows back-to-back-to-back. So,  I would like to see some variety.”

Next semester, the UIndy theatre department will show three to five more performances,  according to Taylor.

“They [the UIndy theatre department] are going to do the dinner theatre show, which I believe is called ‘Move Over, Mrs. Markham.’ It’s another Ray Cooney, which we did last year. It’s another one written by him. And then they’ll be doing the student-directed production[s]. There are usually about three or four of those. They are about 30 minutes each or so and a student will pick a small portion of a show and direct that themselves and cast it themselves. Those are a lot of fun to do.”

The next performance will be the dinner theatre production, “Move Over, Mrs. Markham,”  which will preview on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. as a performance only, without the dinner, in the UIndy Dining Hall. The production will be performed with dinner Feb. 24-26 and March 2-4, with dinner at 6:45 p.m. and the performance at 8 p.m. also in the UIndy Dining Hall. General Admission is $27 per person, including the dinner. Admission for UIndy students, faculty and staff is $15 per person, including dinner, and UIndy student rush tickets are free with student  ID. Tickets will be available at the Event Ticketing Center in Ransburg Auditorium.

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