Senior project brings theatre students to AU

By Lindsay Cameron

High school theatre students came to Ashland University’s studio theatre on Nov. 3 to have their performances workshopped by AU senior Emily Plank.

As Plank’s senior project, a requirement for her theatre major, she chose to coach others on the aspects of theatre in which she excels.

Plank feels confident with auditioning for parts, but she knows others find it nerve-racking.  

“Most high school production auditions are not what the student will experience in the real world or in college,” she said. “They need to learn how to showcase the skills they have in a way that makes them desirable to departments.  This is the way to get the scholarship or the spot in a program.”  

About ten students attended Plank’s workshop, where Plank delivered a powerpoint presentation on preparing for theatre auditions.  

The event served as a practice audition for the high school students who prepared songs and monologues beforehand and came dressed in their audition attire.  

Plank provided the students with an example audition that she had prepared, and then commented on each student’s practice audition, gave them advice for improving their performances and allowed them to put those changes to practice in front of the group.

“I was incredibly pleased with how responsive the students were, and I was surprised at their level of readiness,” she said.

Plank said that she hopes her efforts benefit the theatre department by attracting prospective students.

“If the theatre department did this every year, we would have a name among area high schools as an accessible theatre department who wants students to learn,” she said.

Ric Goodwin, a professor of theatre and a jury member for Plank’s senior project, said the department is considering a longer summer workshop for high school students or a faculty-run program.

“Anytime you bring high school students to campus it has the potential to be a recruiting possibility, especially for serious theatre students,” he said.

Brooke Morrison, 18, of Wooster High School, is serious about theatre.  

She performed character Martha’s monologue from “Leap Year Leap,” by Walter Ben Hare.

Morrison said she heard about AU’s workshop through her choir director.

Morrison is pursuing a career in theatre because it is a favorite pastime of hers.

“I sorta feel like I belong on stage,” she said.

Morrison said she feels better prepared to pick an appropriate audition piece and what to expect in an audition.

“I learned a lot about what to wear, what to do when you are singing, and what to do when presenting you’re monologue,” she said.

Plank said her workshop is designed to help the students excel.

“Most of them are nervous,” she said. “Getting to practice and receiving pointers reassures them that the work they have done is correct and they can  improve.”

Josh Heard, 17, of Freemont-Ross High School, sang “Feelin’ Good,” from “The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd.”

Heard said that Plank’s level of professionalism was impressive.

“I had to remind myself that she’s a senior here, and not a professional,” he said.

Because of the workshop and Plank’s presentation, Heard feels more prepared to tackle interview questions and preparing with an accompanist.

During the workshop, Goodwin said Plank displayed a professional demeanor, represented the department well and displayed the knowledge and vocabulary she has learned during her time at AU.

After the students finished in the studio theatre, they were able to take a tour of the campus, eat in Convo, and attend AU’s theatre production, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

“It’s nice to wrap it all up—to see the things we’re learning put into action,” Heard said.