A step inside Taylor Theatre this week reveals all the components of a professional production, yet you won’t see any faculty or staff roaming around the black walled space. “Distracted,” which is this fall’s second production from Theatre Workshop, continues the tradition of an all-student cast and crew.
“It’s a lot more collaborative here,” said stage manager Natasha Riverón, a first-year, of the environment in Theatre Workshop. Instead of faculty arranging and organizing in separate meetings, the students are now responsible for everything that goes on.
Director Spencer Spotts has been working with a small cast and crew for two months, and has gained the respect and admiration of his peers. He may be a first-year, but upon walking into a rehearsal, one would be surprised that he hasn’t been doing this for years.
“It felt like he had that senior persona about him. He’s done a great job,” said Harrison Rosenfeld, a sophomore who plays multiple roles in the play.
The only non-student around is Eddie, the ten-year-old son of English professor Katherine Carlstrom, who is cast as a young boy who is struggling with ADHD, one of the main figures in the play. “Distracted” tells the story of a mother and father confronting their son’s struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The play explores both sides of the argument about whether medication is the right path for their son through the conflicting opinions of the mother and father.
“Its really socially relevant because there is all this rapid diagnosis and medicating children at younger and younger ages,” said first-year Wake Smith, who plays the father. “Hopefully it rings some bells for some of the audience members. It will be cool to see.”
For a number of members of the cast and crew, this subject matter hits close to home, while for others it was a learning experience. “I didn’t use any of the medications [discussed in the play] growing up, but my character did,” said Rosenfeld, who had to draw on the experiences on family members and the content of the play to embody his role.
On the contrary, Wake Smith describes a sense of déjà vu. “This play could easily be retitled ‘Wake’s Childhood,’” said the actor, who is just stepping into the world of theatre for the first time.
The theme of ADHD is intertwined at every level of the play: at a personal level for the actors, in the acting process and in the overall staging.
“The script is written very ADD, we had them jumping around in each place so it didn’t make sense to move stuff around during the show,” Riverón said of the decisions made about prop choices and staging. The cast and crew have invested themselves into understanding not only the performance element of the play but also how the mental health struggles are relevant in every aspect of the production.
Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
in the Taylor Theatre (east of Bemis)
Free tickets are available at the Worner Desk
Hannah Jean Shaper: Mama
Wake Smith: Dad
Eddie Carlstrom: Jesse
Maggie Deadrick: Sherry
Chloe Sharples: Natalie
Shayla Gordon: Vera
Harrison Rosenfeld: Dr. Broder, Dr. Jinks, Dr. Karnes
Sarah Hupper: Dr. Zavala, waitress, Carolyn
Sally Slade: Dr. Waller, Mrs. Holly, Nurse