by Ciera Miller, Staff Writer
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.