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UIndy alumni perform in local theatre

Posted on 10.09.2013

Jenni White graduated from the University of Indianapolis in 1997, and while her life has changed many times since then, her love of theatre never has.

(From left) Actors Manny Casillas, Jeffrey Barnes, Kevin Johnson and Benjamin Schuetz portray people with AIDs at a support group in “The Raft of Medusa.”

(From left) Actors Manny Casillas, Jeffrey Barnes, Kevin Johnson and Benjamin Schuetz portray people with AIDs at a support group in “The Raft of Medusa.”

White is directing a production of Joe Pintauro’s “The Raft of Medusa,” and she is not the only UIndy alum involved.
White said that she put out a call for auditions on websites for Indianapolis actors and the UIndy Theatre Alumni Facebook group.
It turned out that about half of the cast has a UIndy connection, including Assistant Director of Conference and Scheduling Jeffrey Barnes, former student Manny Casillas, alum Kevin Grow, adjunct faculty member Adam Henze and alum Kirk Fields, with a production staff including Director of Conference and Scheduling Christie Beckmann, Manager of Technical Services for Krannert Memorial Library Lucy Fields and alum Danielle Buckell.
However, many other staffers and actors are involved, and White said that she had to work specifically to find men for the play, which has 10 male roles.
“It’s a 90-minute, one act [play], like you’re watching a support group for people with AIDs,” she said. “It’s set in 1990, and so here we are, 23 years later, looking back at 1990, when the AIDs epidemic kind of hit and spread, and people were really wrapped up in that—kind of looking at it in the lens of today and what we can learn from that.”
According to White, the play also shows how it is harder today to work through problems and talk them out with people, because there is so much media coming at us.
“Part of the idea is unplugging or really turning that media off.  And only then can we find true healing and true interactions with other human beings,” she said.
“The Raft of Medusa” will run from Oct. 10-13 at various times. For more information or to buy tickets, check out the Theatre Outreach tab of the website
Buckell, the costume and props designer, said that it was great working with so many other UIndy graduates. She said that even though everyone graduated in different years, they had commonalities.
Buckell said that they often swap stories about Associate Professor of Theatre Brad Wright and Chair and Associate Professor of Theatre Jim Ream.
White said that she has stayed involved with theatre since graduating, and that most of the actors in her show do not do it for money; they do it for something else.
“I would say 85 percent of us have other jobs that aren’t in theatre, and this is that kind of hobby, if you will,” she said. “But it’s more than that. And I think people who give this kind of time and dedication find the challenge worth accepting and worth meeting. We find that creativity is just itching to get out.”


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