Harbach Theatre has become headquarters for a tremendous collaboration of faculty and students for a 10-week intensive theater immersion program known as Repertory Term.
Rep Term is like the Thespian Olympics: an all day, all night decathlon of theater scholarship and production occurring only once every three years during Knox’s winter term.
Rep Term gives a chance for theatre majors, along with students from a variety of other academic backgrounds, to challenge themselves in a simulated professional setting.
With days occupied by courses sculpted specifically for productions rehearsed by night, the fast-paced program rouses an amped atmosphere evident upon arrival to Harbach.
“Here we are for 10 weeks,” Associate Professor of Theatre Craig Choma said, “the same amount of time but twice the amount of work rehearsing two shows.”
“The Green Bird” and “Caucasian Chalk Circle” are the two plays selected for Knox’s sixteenth Rep Term.
As the head of design and technology for Knox’s Rep Term, Choma oversees almost everything that goes on during production.
This will be Choma’s eighth time participating in the program. His first Rep Term was actually as a student, graduating from Knox in 1993.
He returned to Knox’s Theatre Department to instruct courses in technological design and joined Rep Term once again, this time as a faculty member.
“As a student, you realize how much you learn about yourself working in a model of a professional environment,” Choma said.
Choma describes Rep Term as “the ideal flagship program” that gave him a leg up in graduate school, recalling how Carnegie Mellon was impressed by how well prepared he was for every aspect of theater.
Rep Term is composed of three credits: Seminar, Conservatory and the overall production of putting on two plays.
Rep Term’s Seminar course, taught by Professor of Theatre Neil Blackadder, immerses students in the historical context of the two plays while also studying works by both the playwrights and their contemporaries.
Conservatory incorporates two disciplines: movement and voice, instructed by Associate Professor of Dance Jennifer Smith and Professor of Theatre Elizabeth Carlin-Metz respectively.
Choma said that Conservatory allows for exposure outside of the usual “self imposed parameters,” working towards mastery of speaking through the body and strengthening vocal ability.
With a heavy course load accompanying six rehearsals per week, cohesive efficiency is seminal to a successful Rep Term.
“Every single person from start to finish has to work at the best of what they’re capable of,” Choma said.
The demand is met with high enthusiasm. For Rep Term students, the program is a long- awaited goal and a proving ground for lifelong pursuits.
For senior Franzi Mayer, Rep Term has been a highly anticipated capstone to her Knox career.
As the costume designer for “The Green Bird,” she is fulfilling her career ambitions and experiencing an intimidating but invigorating independent working environment.
“It’s beautiful and terrifying and that’s the fun of it,” Mayer said.
Mayer is hard at work “costuming caricatures [with a] visual twist” of bright fanciful colors for “The Green Bird.”
“I’m proud of [the shows] and I’m proud of all of us,” Mayer said.
Harbach will stage not only Mayer’s range of costumes, but also unveil videographic projecting designs on a scale never before seen.
Three different projectors, each with its own computer, will cast graphics from varying locations in black and grey scales.
Massive arching portals with interweaving canopy of tangled tree branches and entwining designs are currently under construction for the stage as well.
Overseeing projects like the portals is senior Marina Capizzi.
“I’m still getting my legs,” Capizzi said. “I’m always busy with a smile. I love it.”
Capizzi is excited for the end product of all the effort going on backstage.
“It shows what we’re capable of doing,” she said.
“[The plays are] so different you’ve got to see them both. It shows our ability to change our company from one show to the next … There’s something for everybody and they’re also really funny.”
Opening night of “The Green Bird” is on Feb. 28 and “Caucasian Chalk Circle” is on March 1. Both plays will be performed in Harbach Theatre and will run until March 9.