Freed-Hardeman University Theatre will continue its spring season with an innovative take on drama called “Playing for Pizza,” March 3-5 in the Black Box Theatre. Seth Fish is making his Freed-Hardeman directing debut with this production, and it promises to be a unique experience for all.
Fish, FHU’s technical director of theatre, and several theater students are presenting the original production with elements of improvisation. It utilizes an approach to drama first made famous by a Chicago based group called the NeoFuturists. Each of the eight actors in “Playing for Pizza” wrote three to four two-minute scenes based on their lives; topics range from their favorite food to the moment they realized they were not kids any more. After 30 scenes were drafted, the cast brainstormed and refined these scenes with Fish guiding the process.
Audience members will choose the order of the scenes. The actors will read the selected scene’s prompt and immediately begin acting out that scene. Because of this spontaneity, the actors will undoubtedly have to deal with obstacles and make adjustments to fit the performance each night. If the actors are able to perform all 30 scenes in less than an hour, they will share pizza. If they fail to finish in under an hour, then the pizza they have ordered will be given to audience members.
The director’s intent is to demonstrate a wide array of emotion and experience in the hour. Some scenes will be humorous while others will be thought provoking. The concept of scripted improvisation is a part of the experiment because of its ability to tear down the division between audience and actor, Fish said. Many of the scenes have guidelines dependent on audience reaction, and if the reaction is not what the actors expect, they will adapt the scene accordingly.
The directing methods for “Playing for Pizza” are also nontraditional. Fish contributed only two of the scenes and kept his control over the production minimal. “I wanted to be more of an artistic molder. I’ve given some directions to tweak parts, but mostly I’ve been acting as a spectator to make sure everything will work together,” he said. According to Fish, he did not want to steal chances for creativity from the actors, who have been responsible for the writing, composing and staging.
“Playing for Pizza” will be presented March 3-5 at 7:00 p.m. and March 5 at 2:00 p.m. It will be performed in the intimate Black Box Theatre with limited seating. General admission tickets are $7 and FHU student tickets are $1. To order, visit FHUTickets.com
or contact the theatre office at 731-989-6079.