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STAGE president discusses uncertain future

Elimination of WSU Performing Arts leaves student theater group questioning access to resources

STAGE+President+Aryn+Allen+talks+about+her+experience+in+the+club+and+what+she+has+learned+from+it.
STAGE President Aryn Allen talks about her experience in the club and what she has learned from it.

STAGE President Aryn Allen talks about her experience in the club and what she has learned from it.

MICHAEL LINDER | The Daily Evergreen

MICHAEL LINDER | The Daily Evergreen

STAGE President Aryn Allen talks about her experience in the club and what she has learned from it.

GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen mint editor

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As STAGE Student Theatre President Aryn Allen looked around the STAGE meeting room Monday, she recognized the potential hardships her organization will face this semester. Much of the immediate future is up in the air, she explained.

The elimination of WSU Performing Arts will deeply impact the student theater group. The group’s access to the theaters of Daggy Hall and its meeting room is up for grabs and the storage space for their props and costumes could be redistributed. Worst of all, Allen said, the group’s faculty advisers, Mary Trotter and Benjamin Gonzales, are being let go. Even so, Allen said as STAGE’s mission adapts, the group’s dedication to theater will not falter.

“We’re just kind of trying to do everything we can,” she said, “to make sure that even if we don’t have a room and we don’t have a theater, there’s a way that we have the passion to continue theater without it.”

CATHERINE KRUSE | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
Aryn Allen stars as the Greek heroine Eurydice in WSU Performing Art’s production of “Eurydice” in December 2016.

Allen, a junior human development major, was elected as president of STAGE in February 2017 and was immediately forced to take on the role without any prior training and only a year of acting experience.

She said she never had an interest in theater before coming to WSU, but after taking Gonzales’ introduction to theater course, she discovered her talent for acting. She attended a meeting and submitted a one-act play for the annual STAGE One festival in fall 2016.

“I was like, ‘There’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be than around these people and in this environment,’ ” Allen said.

Although her one-act, “Those Who Mourn,” was not chosen for the STAGE One festival in 2016, she resubmitted the play in October and it was selected. At this point, Allen was given the opportunity to play the lead and bring her character to life on stage. In this role, she had to play a suicidal woman, which she described as one of the most difficult things she has done as an actress.

“It helped me know that I could be on stage half-naked, taking a bottle of pills, and I was never uncomfortable because … the audience was taking what we had to offer in this show so beautifully and so gracefully,” she said. “That moment on stage when you’re done and you feel the audience clap for you, like you’ve created something that would possibly change someone else’s life — that changes my life.”

After finding her passion for theater through STAGE and WSU Performing Arts, Allen interned for Netflix this summer on the set of “Everything Sucks” as an extra, and did some stand-in work. She explained that while she once aspired to be a doctor, she now has her sights set on film in Hollywood and hopes the connections she made this summer will further her goals.

Ryan Pugh | Daily Evergreen File
Aryn Allen voices her stance on preventing the elimination of WSU Performing Arts in front of ASWSU on Oct. 25.

Allen fears that others who come to WSU and want to try their hand at acting, or any aspect of theater, will not have the same opportunities she did in the near future. The members of STAGE have to look to alternative forms of mentorship, such as this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which will feature workshops, shows and competitions for members to participate in and attend.

STAGE members are preparing for Trotter’s final show, “Silent Sky,” for Mom’s Weekend, and Allen will be trying to acquire new skills behind the curtain to pass on to future members. As the assistant stage manager, she will make sure all of the sets and props are in place and that the actors are ready to go.

“It helps for next year when we don’t have Ben and Mary,” she said. “I have that knowledge of how to run a show from behind the scenes so I can use that knowledge to teach people and continue this legacy.”

STAGE is funded by external grants and ticket sales. Allen said they will be looking into additional revenue sources, such as Services and Activities fees, to ensure that members can continue to perform.

STAGE executives will also rewrite the group’s bylaws to establish protocols for existence without theaters or advisers. Even with the group’s uncertain future after this semester, Allen believes students can learn a lot from theater and wants to continue to give them the opportunity to experience, perform in, direct and write quality plays.

“Everybody has that creative aspect that contributes to who we are as STAGE,” she said, “and I don’t think we would have theater if everybody didn’t have that talent for what we do.”

About the Writer
GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen mint editor

Gabriella Ramos is a junior strategic communication major from Aurora, Illinois. She is pursuing minors in business administration and French. During her...

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STAGE president discusses uncertain future