It’s a companion piece to last winter’s “Alone Together”
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact lives, it’s appropriate that Schoolcraft College Theatre opens the season with “Something at Last,” a companion piece to last winter’s “Alone Together.”
Where “Alone Together” explored the isolation brought on by the pandemic, “Something at Last” explores how we are emerging from isolation. Written by award-winning Michigan playwrights Joseph Zettelmaier and Michael Alan Herman, “Something at Last” features six separate stories told in monologue form.
Professor Paul Beer directed the production, which will be available for viewing on YouTube beginning on Monday, November 1, and will be open for viewing for a week.
Professor Beer graciously provided his insight in the following interview:
Q: Like “Alone Together,” this production was filmed and then will be presented on a video stream. From your perspective as a director, what are the challenges of presented the work this way? What sort of changes have you had to make in terms of your style, how you work with the actors and so forth?
Professor Beer: Joe Zettelmaier and I conceived of the idea of a monologue show as we considered alternatives for our season within the constraints of the pandemic, and Joe offered to work with his writing partner, Michael Alan Herman, to produce a script. Our original goal was to provide our students a performance opportunity, and to stay connected with our base of patrons who have support Schoolcraft Theatre over time.
Last winter semester, “Alone Together” was quite successful; our audience was at least as big as audiences when we perform live, and we reached well beyond the traditional geography of Schoolcraft Theatre support. When we realized that pandemic precautions this fall semester would still prevent a live performance before an audience, we turned to Joe and Michael again.
While it’s a performance opportunity, it is different. First, the performance of a monologue, without other actors on the stage, requires a different, but very important, set of skills for an actor. The actor must create his character and the audience he is addressing at the same time. Second, our performance for cameras rather than a live audience is a new experience for some of our actors.
We have tried to film the performance as if it were live (rather than doing something truly cinematic), but it is still more intimate than playing to a house full of audience members. With a live audience, the audience becomes part of the performance; in a filmed performance, the actors are missing that partnership, too.
Q: What do you miss most about live productions?
Professor Beer: The audience! We have enjoyed our audience members who have attended Schoolcraft Theatre over the years, and new audience members who come from our student body. The audience is a critical part of live theatre, and we miss communing with them.
We look forward to inviting our audiences back to the James R. Hartman Theatre in March of 2022 when we’ll present a live performance of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. (Tickets will go on sale in January 2022.)
Q: Thank you for your time, Professor Beer. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Professor Beer: Schoolcraft Theatre is fortunate to have the support of the College and the community, and we’re very grateful.
Cast and crew bios
Paul Beer has been teaching at Schoolcraft since 2015 and is thrilled to present this new play. “We conceived of the recorded monologue show last winter to cope with COVID and give our students a chance to act in a safe environment,” he said. “Given the continuing concerns, we’re happy to build on that success and offer ‘Something at Last.’ These are great stories and great characters. We can’t wait for you to meet them!”
Nicole Levine is a Schoolcraft student nearing the completion of her associate degree in Fine Arts and Theatre. She’s worked on many productions and is a great backstage boss for the tech team. Like so many Schoolcraft students, Levine balances her academics, theatre work and employment, keeping many plates spinning in her life.
Emily Betz has worked with Schoolcraft Theatre for a number of years as the costumer, and she has many shows to her credit both here and outside Schoolcraft. This is her Schoolcraft acting debut. Her character, Ambrosia, is a COVID-driven career changer finding joy in her line of work.
Hassan Chammout also performed in “Alone Together” and “Rabbit Hole.” He recently graduated from Schoolcraft and is continuing his education at the University of Michigan (double majoring in Biology and Theatre) while building his professional resume. Devon is a working actor who has a surprise appearance in his childhood home.
“Something at Last” is Bryan LaMance’s debut at Schoolcraft, where he’s studying broadcasting. He hopes to make his living writing and voice acting. Jude is a hobby fisherman who isn’t so sure he wants the isolation of COVID to end.
Julia Gilewski is a Schoolcraft College sophomore, studying education, and this is her first performance on the SC stage. She mentioned in her audition that she’s more comfortable behind the scenes. Quinn discovers her first post-COVID job as a ride share driver might not be the best fit.
Gavin Carrigan is a first-year student at Schoolcraft pursuing an associate degree in Communications Studies. He’s done lots of theatre in middle and high school, and this is his first performance in the James R. Hartman Theatre. He’s looking forward to working as a voice actor in the future, and as a “Halloweenie” in “Something at Last.” Jim is thrilled to return to a more normal celebration of his favorite holiday, Halloween.
Essie Weasley previously performed in “Alone Together” and “Sylvia.” Offstage she continues to work in healthcare while pursuing a variety of performance opportunities. She plays Kennedy, who discovers secrets about her family’s past after her mother’s death.