by Ciera Miller, Staff Writer
Audience members watching Spilecki Spaloosa behind Merrill Hall. (Photo courtesy of Ciera Miller)
On Oct. 10, the National Theatre Honors Society (NTHS) and Alpha Psi Omega (APO) at UMF hosted their first Spilecki Spaloosa in the Emery Courtyard behind Merrill Hall.
APO consists of students who were specially chosen due to their avid participation in theatre on campus. They live and breathe in the theatre world, and they plan events to share that love with others.
Matty Bernard, president of APO, said, “The Spilecki Spaloosa was written in part by former UMF APO members many years ago, but was never performed until now.” Although the idea had been kicking around for so long, the current APO members still needed a little push to make it into an actual event. “The Spaloosa is named after Stan Spilecki, the technical director at UMF, because of his involvement and encouragement towards APO to do this. He had done a similar event in the past where it was treated like a competition,” Bernard said.
This year’s Spilecki Spaloosa wasn’t a competition, but it was simple in practice; any interested UMF student could participate, and they chose whether they wanted to act or to watch. If students wanted to act, their name went into a pink pumpkin head. From this pumpkin head, Bernard chose random names for a random 10 minute scene that one of the APO members was going to direct. Both the director and actors had never seen the script before, making the challenge even harder.
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” said Sam Wood, one of the APO members, who was directing the scene. “You just skip the scenes you don’t like―or you try to.” Although she didn’t like some of the content she was staging, Wood wasn’t completely upset with the directing process. “It was fun! You get to work with people you don’t usually get to work with,” she said. Eli Mowry, APO member and president of Student Theatre UMF (STUMF), voiced similar sentiments.
The impromptu actors were excited about the performances. They were given ten minutes to rehearse their scenes before going in front of a live audience. Emalyn Remington, secretary of STUMF, called it a magical and fulfilling experience. “It was hard trying not to laugh,” Remington said, in response to her fellow actor making chimpanzee noises in the middle of their scene. Another actor, Paul Riddell, put it more simply: “In a word―fun.” Riddell also discussed having this event in the COVID-19 era. “The two main challenging things during COVID-19 are projecting [your voice] through the mask and keeping six feet apart,” Riddell said.
Both APO and STUMF have been trying to keep up with COVID-19 regulations while still having theatre events on campus. They’re trying their best to enforce the six feet apart rule, having everyone wear their masks, and being safe while performing. “Theatre has been very difficult in the current climate, so it’s just good for us to be here,” Mowry said. “I’m glad that people are here at STUMF meetings, at APO events, doing the Spaloosa.”
While being socially distanced can make things harder, the Spilecki Spaloosa was fun for everyone involved―directors, actors, and audience members. Elly Bernard, part of the audience, said she thought it was very creative and very entertaining. The scenes were performed wonderfully despite their short rehearsal time, laughs echoed throughout the night, and everyone left with smiles on their faces. They all agreed that it had been an enjoyable night. “And that’s what theatre’s about,” Mowry said. “Having fun.”
“I think that the event could be done in the future,” Matty Bernard said about more spaloosas. “We can normally open the event up to the entire UMF community, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, we were not able to do so [this time].”
So if you missed the Spilecki Spaloosa this time around, keep your eyes peeled for future spaloosas and theatre events hosted by APO. If you want to join a theatre club, Student Theatre UMF (STUMF) meets every Friday at 5:10 PM in the Emery Courtyard behind the Merrill Center and invites anyone interested in theatre to join.
Taylor Burke Contributing Writer
An eerily quiet Friday night on campus had seniors Brock Bubar and Hailey Craig dunking their heads in water during what would be their last show as the Lawn Chair Pirates. Despite the recent closure of the school due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a crowd of over 75 people who came to get a final laugh at Bubar and Craig’s antics during the show.
Following the game, which finally ended when Bubar guessed that Craig was acting like a Roomba vacuum cleaner, the two held each other in a heartfelt embrace.
This act of friendship is telling of just how intimately close the group is, making the sudden conclusion of Bubar and Craig’s time with the pirates so difficult. “We’re all a big family,” Craig said. “The part I’m going to miss the most is just having a space three times a week where I can go in and make jokes and hang out with my friends.”
Bubar also felt a sense of comradery during his time in the group. “There isn’t a pirate in the group that isn’t like a broski,” Bubar said sincerely. “Just being in this improvisational headspace and being with a group of people who have your back can really push you up from whatever dark depths you happen to be in that day.”
Two days before the show Bubar and Craig realized that it would be their last. “Usually we get a senior video, but we don’t get that this year,” Craig said.
Instead, the two gave a speech in which they addressed the crowd, expressing their heartache, and saying goodbye. “We’ve cried about it a lot,” Craig said during the speech. Around the auditorium, the faces in the audience were somber, but after the speech finished, the whole crowd cheered for the two pirates.
Craig was thankful that they were able to hold a final show, even though UMF would be closing. “We’re really happy that we still get to hold the show tonight because it’s the last day on campus for a lot of people,” she said. She hoped to provide that last laugh to the audience before they had to leave.
The name of the show, “Friday the 13th,” was eerily relevant in such a scary and confusing time for those on campus, especially seniors. The quick turn of events left Bubar and Craig uncertain about what lay ahead, and sad about everything they weren’t prepared to leave behind so suddenly. “I was not ready to just lose everybody so quickly,” Bubar said. “And also I’m not ready to just jump into the professional workforce.”
Craig nodded in agreement with Bubar as she contemplated her own future, which was quickly becoming a reality. “I don’t really have time to be scared anymore,” she said frankly.
As the two senior pirates “died,” six new pirates were “born” to make the show not only about goodbyes, but about hellos as well. In an opening video shown prior to the final performance, the new members were featured telling scary stories around a fire which included existing members of the LCP.
Junior Sophie Hendrix is one of the six new members of the group. Hendrix had already been part of theater at UMF, but wanted to expand and try something new. She felt LCP was that opportunity. She’s had to get used to being flexible, because improv is very different from line memorization. This show was her first and last of the semester. “Being my first show I’m like super excited,” she said with a smile. But Hendrix was also upset that it was her last show, especially because the seniors were leaving. “It’s going to be sad without Hailey and Brock,” she said. “I’ll miss their energy.”
Sophomore and theater major Paul Riddell is another new member of the group. He has been involved with improv since fourth grade, and was really eager to be a part of the LCP. “It’s really exciting to see all of the potential that the group has,” Riddell said. “But it’s really sad to see two great pirates go and two close friends of mine as well.”
Riddell hasn’t been with the pirates for very long, but his bond with the two seniors makes it hard for him to see them leave. “I’m definitely going to miss what they bring to the table and just them as people,” he said. “I’m really close with both of them.”
Junior Katie Shupp was in the audience during the show, and was excited about the abundance of new members entering the group. “It’s going to be a full house,” she said. Shupp has been to many shows and watched Bubar and Craig grow and develop as entertainers during her time at UMF. “We’ve been with them for three years now so it was a nice ending,” Shupp said.
Bubar was in his seventh semester with LCP and Craig was in her eighth, which made them a big part of the established foundation of personalities that audiences came to enjoy.
As the show came to a close, audience members filed out of the auditorium. The few that stayed congratulated the new members and said their goodbyes and thanks to the seniors. Amongst the loud chatter Craig, covered in a blanket due to her soaking wet clothes, received a bouquet of flowers with a look of surprise and happiness written on her face. Bubar, also drenched in water, hugged fellow pirate Jeremy Tingdahl after announcing that he would lead LCP in the following semester. The pirates mingled with their fans as the night wore on, continuing to fight the looming uncertainty with comedy and humor.