Opening night for the final play of the undergraduate Theatre Arts Programâ€™s 2008-09 season, Anon(ymous), a modernized version of Homerâ€™s Odyssey, has arrived. For Monica Stufft, the playâ€™s director and first-year professor at the University of San Diego, itâ€™s the culmination of months of uniquely creative inspiration, education and preparation for the cast and crew.
â€œItâ€™s been a very exciting process,â€ Stufft said. â€œFor everyone involved, we decided early on that this would be a truly collaborative process. I didnâ€™t cast the students as characters. They came to the first rehearsal only knowing they were part of the ensemble. It was also how we worked with set designs, costume designs and lighting designs. We didnâ€™t stay in roles. We allowed for more participation to really tell this story ourselves.â€
The results of this approach can be seen April 30-May 3 and May 5-7 at the 100-seat indoor Studio Theatre in Camino Hall. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2 p.m. matinee performance on May 2. A post-show discussion takes place at three selected shows with USD faculty (see information below).
Playwright Naomi Iizukaâ€™s 2006 story explores the journey of Anon, who has fled an unnamed war-torn country and is trying to find his place in the United States. Separated from his mother, the young refugee encounters numerous characters â€” such as a sinister, one-eyed butcher â€” during his journey.
â€œI thought it was a really good opportunity to explore how, when people are in difficult situations, they become incredibly innovative and creative out of necessity,â€ Stufft said.
She had cast members find visually condensed representations of what they thought brought out the â€œessence of the charactersâ€ through a scavenger hunt. â€œIt was designed to get them out there and into San Diego. To explore particular neighborhoods, meet people, find objects and experiences, and bring it back and incorporate it into the language of the play.â€
The overall creative process in directing this play makes Stufft proud to be at USD.
â€œIâ€™m happy to be part of a department thatâ€™s so committed to making each production experience really beneficial to the students and teaching them things theyâ€™ll experience outside of USD once they move on,â€ Stufft said. â€œIâ€™m impressed that USD is very committed to diversity, multiple experiences, voices and perspectives. It’s what this show is all about.â€
The student ensemble consists, alphabetically, of Michael Ahmad, Kyle Beck, Bryce Davis, Stacey Hardke, Kristie Kahlweiss, Allison McLeod, Ryan Meredith, Sarah Pacitti, Jenn Paredes, Jelisa Roberts, Soroya Rowley, Rebecca Nicole Salcedo, Spencer Schumacher, Andrew Steele, Madeline Vann and Taylor Wycoff.
â€” Ryan T. Blystone
Tickets are $11 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the Hahn University Center Box Office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at the door one hour before each show.
For more information about USDâ€™s Theatre Arts Program, click here.
For more information about the post-show discussions at the shows on May 2 (matinee only) and May 5 and 6,Â click here.