Café Theatre’s Student Performers to Hit Stage Despite Delay

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Student performers will be hitting the stage for “A Cabaret: An Artists’ Showcase,” presented by Café Theatre, after a delay. As reported in an article by The Reflector, “A Cabaret: An Artists’ Showcase” was originally planned to be performed from Jan. 25-27 starting at 8 p.m. Earlier this month, the dates were pushed back to Feb. 9 and 10 starting at 7 p.m., according to UIndy360.  Assistant Professor of Theatre Grant Williams said pushing the event back resulted from high hopes under time constraints.

“We were doing three nights for the public and now we’re just doing two mainly,” Williams said. “I think I had my hopes up high on it coming together, but it was coming together too soon after the winter break and I couldn’t get enough people in to work it. So we just pushed it back, shortened it, eased the stress on everybody. That was the whole rationale.”

Williams, the event’s organizer, said this will be the first time an event like Café Theatre has occurred on campus. Café Theatre is an experiment, Williams said, so planning for this type of event does not need intense planning and staging due to its atmosphere.

“I guess we could say it’s our first time doing this, and I don’t need the type of planning that I would put in for an actual theater play show where we do dress rehearsals and technical rehearsals and make sure everything is set and everyone knows their lines,” Williams said. “These are people who are going to get up and sing a song, or they’re going to do a scene that they did in acting class in December. They don’t need it, we’re not having a fully-fledged light scheme and sound ideas in rehearsals.”

According to Williams, the event has a more intimate setting where the performers are close to the audience and the event uses a makeshift stage. It will also has music in between sets, Williams said.

“It is very intimate. With a big talent show where there’s judging and competition, it’d be more on a stage like the Randburg Auditorium,” Williams said. “Like a proscenium theater where you’re going to have audiences and there are going to be a lot of lights and a lot of spectacles. Ours is going to be people getting up on a makeshift stage and hitting some lights and just performing and having fun.”

Junior theatre major and performer Zac Schneider said that the intimate setting of Café Theatre is an interesting way to get performers out of their comfort zones. They said it is a new way of allowing many different people within the department to showcase their different talents.

“I think it’s an interesting idea and I think it’ll be fun to see some of the different talents we have in the department because you only see so much of a person when they’re acting and doing plays,” Schneider said. “It’s cool to see people stepping outside of their comfort zones to try out something new or people who have been singing and doing things for years, showing their talent.”

Schneider, who is also the event’s advisor for lighting, said they will be performing a solo and a duet for Café Theatre. Schneider said they became the advisor for lighting through a friend who was doing the event for their capstone project.

“I’ve been doing lighting since high school,” Schneider said. “At my high school, I was one of the lighting designers and did it for a lot of shows there, and then have naturally continued doing it throughout college. And I am one of the people who have helped overhaul all the lighting in our department. The lighting designer for it is a senior, who’s doing it for their capstone, asked me if I would be willing to help her in any way she needed. She tends to be there to advise and answer any questions.”

Williams said students who attend the event can expect an atmosphere similar to 1960s New York coffee shop theatre. There are a variety of artistic talents from within and outside the theatre department that will be showcased, according to Williams.

“It’s a showcase of artistic talent at UIndy and specifically within the concentration of theater. But we’re also highlighting some speech presentations and people in other areas of the university who wanted to sing a song or present themselves on stage to showcase talent,” Williams said. “The Cafe theater part was [from] my own inspiration. I was inspired by coffee theater houses from specifically the 1960s in New York that would turn their little coffee houses into experimental forms of theater houses. And they were a very laid back, DIY kind of theater, just put some milk crates down and aboard on top of it, people doing theater.”

Schneider said they hope this experience will strengthen their confidence as a person and performer. While they are involved in theatre, performing as a character in a play is different than singing on stage as themselves, according to Schnieder. “I hope to work on the confidence of being able to perform just as me because it’s a very different thing than playing a character because when you’re a character, you’re not yourself,” Schneider said. “You’re able to disassociate yourself and the nerves and everything just disappears. It’s a very different and scary thing to be performing as yourself.”

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