The importance of being Generic

Generic Theatre boasts some of the brightest talent GW has to offer. It is the largest and longest-running student-run theater troupe on campus, says Zack Kaplan, artistic producer of the group. A multifaceted company, Generic handles all aspects of putting on a play – including designing lights and costumes, budgeting, directing, producing and acting.

We are proud that we are a completely student-run theater group, Kaplan says. It makes our challenges more challenging, but our accomplishments more satisfying.

Generic will put on four productions this semester. Productions began in early September with David Ives’ All in the Timing. For Family Weekend, it was Picasso at the Lapin Agile, where characters Picasso and Einstein came together in Steve Martin’s comedic meeting of the minds.

Not only was the cast a talented group of actors, but the directors and the tech crew made this production as successful as it was, says Matt Gula, who was one of the actors in last week’s performance of Picasso. The often sold-out show was forced to turn away eager students.

The Student Association, donations and admissions to performances all help fund Generic. However, staying within the budget is one of the company’s most difficult tasks, says Kaplan.

Generic grapples with a lack of available rehearsal space, says Generic Executive Director Anne Kramlinger. Since the troupe uses the GW Theatre and Dance Department’s space, Downstage Lisner Auditorium, to perform, Generic members frequently find themselves without rehearsal space.

There is a lack of space for student groups in general here at GW, says Kaplan. We must jump through hoops and barrels to get a space to practice.

The fourth-floor rooms in the Marvin Center are usually filled up within the first week of the semester, he says, so the theater group often ends up practicing on the Quad, in Monroe Hall or even in residence hall rooms. Practice space is the most necessary element for making a play on paper come alive on stage, Kaplan and Kramlinger say.

Despite the problems Generic faces, its shows typically sell out. The audience base and the actors themselves have gone beyond what Kaplan terms typical theater people. He said he hopes to keep the streak going when, Pippin, the first musical Generic has done in several years, takes the stage Nov. 11. In December, the student group will tackle Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

In the past few years Generic has taken considerable strides in the number and caliber of performances, says Kramlinger.

Kramlinger and the other members of the Generic Theatre board help determine which shows will be staged and make sure that each step is completed by its deadline. More importantly, this board steers Generic toward its greater goals – getting more freshmen involved in the group and helping more people experience theater.

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