Generic Theatre proves to be creative force on campus

Generic Theatre Company’s slogan is We may be generic, but we’re never bland. And, it’s true. The entirely student-run theater group is anything but bland.

Generic has a well-deserved reputation around campus for taking risks and turning out quality performances. It was the first theater company to perform musical theater when it produced Pippin last semester. Generic also is navigating new ground with the 24-hour play this weekend. And keep in mind, it’s entirely student run.

A four-member board heads up the company, which boasts more than 400 people on its mass e-mailing list. The board consists of senior Zack Kaplan, artistic producer; junior Annie Kramlinger, executive producer; sophomore Frannie Rosenber, director of public relations; and freshman Todd Goldblatt, technical director. Although they make the final decisions, Generic is a place where anyone and everyone can share their ideas and actually be heard. And it’s also a place swarming with opportunities that allows students to get involved in every aspect of theater.

That’s why Generic exists – to offer the students any and every opportunity they want, Kramlinger said.

Students can direct, act, produce, write scripts, experiment with technical aspects of theater, or do everything. For students with an interest in theater, but who aren’t theater majors, Generic offers a more comfortable, less formal atmosphere.

The mood of Generic is entertaining, fun and very free-spirited, Kaplan said. Right now, Generic is enjoying a tremendous amount of interest on campus. We continue to grow, our audiences continue to grow and our intensity continues to grow.

Generic’s accomplishments are noteworthy, but take into account some of its limitations, and the accomplishments appear even more commendable. As a registered Student Association group, Generic’s budget depends on the amount of money allocated to it by the SA.

As we continue to grow, we have to cut as many corners as possible to put on the quality that we do, Kaplan said.

And while Downstage Lisner has become somewhat of a trademark for Generic, it’s not without its disadvantages.

Our biggest problem with Downstage is that it doesn’t fit enough audience members, Rosenberg said.

Kaplan said they were turning away more than 100 people a night who wanted to see Pippin – there just wasn’t enough room.

Put this in bold – GW needs a student theater space, Kaplan said.

However, Generic has taken steps to combat the limited seating by performing the shows for a longer period of time with more than one performance each night. The company is also fiddling with the idea of advanced ticket sales. Yet, the small space of Downstage doesn’t just limit the number of people who can attend. It also limits the shows that can be performed.

That’s one of the things we look for in a play now, is can you do it in the Downstage, Rosenberg said. In some ways, it hinders us but it makes us get more creative about what we’re going to do, and it really adds to our shows.

It’s funny because with every show you put up, someone says you’ll never be able to put that up in the Downstage. And we always put it up great, and everyone has a good time, Kaplan said.

This semester, Generic probably will hear that it will never be able to put up this or that show in the Downstage, but as always, it will. The season for Generic opens this weekend with the 24-hour play. A normal play takes about six to eight weeks before it is ready to be performed. Generic, however, is going to tackle the task in 24 hours.

At 10 p.m. Friday night, 10 or 12 writers will meet and write short plays. Assuming people will collaborate, they will have produced five or six one-act plays by their deadline, 10 a.m., the next morning. Then, five directors will pick a play. From a pool of actors who already have agreed to show up Saturday morning, the directors will cast their shows. From that point until 10 p.m. Saturday night, the cast, director and the one stage manager given to each director will have to hammer out a play. At 10 p.m. Saturday, the curtain goes up on the 24-hour play.

The second Generic production is Six Characters in Search of an Author, a play by Luigi Pirandello. A play within a play, the show focuses on six characters who disrupt a rehearsal and demand that they be put in the show, but their lives are only half-written. Whoever started writing about these characters stopped, but the question is why? Six Characters in Search of an Author runs March 9 through March 12.

The Creation of the World and Other Business, an Arthur Miller show, takes a look at the Biblical story of Adam, Eve and the forbidden fruit. God and Lucifer are struggling to reign in heaven, and Adam and Eve find themselves in the middle of the battle. The show will be performed April 5 through April 9.

Generic closes out the year with the Festival of Mirth. It’s a production of works written by students.

Most likely, Generic will sell-out its shows, dazzle audiences and attract more and more students. And like Barry White, Generic has staying power.

As the longest-running student theater group on this campus, I don’t think we’re going anywhere anytime soon, Rosenberg said.

The 24-hour play will be performed in Building J (2131 G St.) Saturday at 10 p.m. Admission is $1.

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