Members of Witness and Throat Culture speak about experiences

By RACHEL WITKIN | May 7, 2012

May 3, 2012

Witness Theater, Hopkins's student-run theater group, culminated its year with a Spring Showcase last Friday, Apr. 27 and Saturday, Apr. 28. The showcase featured five student plays and a Throat Culture Sketch Comedy Show. These included junior Jeremy Roth's "ppl are jump roping," senior Kelsey Miller's "Bed Play" and "Hey Arnold," sophomore Alessandra Bautze's "The Girl's Room" and sophomore Matt Pulaski's "High Functioning Autism from Morality, not Genetics." The News-Letter asked Miller and Roth as well as Throat Culture members sophomore Ben Cohen and freshman Rebecca Levine to discuss their experiences in Witness and Throat Culture this year.

The News-Letter (N-L): What has been your best memory in Witness/Throat Culture this year?
Ben Cohen (BC): This is probably a very director-y answer, but I would say my best memory would be the rehearsals we did for the JCPenny/Campfire sketch that was done for this show. The sketch started off very bare bones, like a short minute-long thing with a single one-note joke, basically, but once it was run on stage everyone acting in it and the directors started suggesting ideas and lines to add to the sketch until it became a fully fleshed out thing... For me it felt like something borne out of a group dynamic as opposed to a single writer's mind, and I think its nice when the camaraderie of a group can have a positive effect on the material it produces.
Rebecca Levine (RL): My best memory was having the first sketch I had written performed and hearing the audience laugh.
Kelsey Miller (KM): My best memory of Witness is probably just the time spent working on these shows with my friends. They're all so talented, and I'm always so proud of the work they do.
Oliver Roth (OR): Witness is a great organization because of the collaboration that is involved in each and every show we put up. Everything we do is generated by undergraduate students. From the writing, to the directing, acting, and technical design, students do it all--without the help of any professionals. It is a place for people interested in all aspects of theater to come together and work on a project that has never been performed before.

N-L: What was your favorite sketch you've ever done?
BC: Either the Abraham Lincoln Talk Show sketch from the last full show we had, or the Village Idiot Election sketch from the last 24-hour show we did. Both were written by member Eric Levitz who is graduating this year.
RL: My favorite sketch was one in which I played a crazy ex-girlfriend version of Aphrodite because it was interesting that the main character of that sketch was both female and the funny man (woman?). Often girls are stuck playing the understanding wife, the mom or any other straight character, whereas in this one I got to explore my potential as the crazy one on stage.
KM: I've done a number of plays for Witness and I don't know if I've ever been really satisfied with them as plays. Nothing to do with the acting, which has only been redeeming. I just think of my work maybe as poetry that I sneaked onto the stage. I don't know anything about drama because I've got almost no idea about psychologies other than my own. Also, I avoid most real-life interactions. Probably my best play was a barely intelligible monologue by a young woman on an empty train, in the midst of a Polish winter. That's a situation I can understand. It comes pretty close to describing my existential condition.
OR: [I] really enjoyed directing "High-Functioning Autism due to Morality, not Genetics" in this last showcase. The piece was written by Sophomore Matt Pulaski and starred himself and freshman Pam Hugi. The dialogue in the piece is very edgy and quick, and involves these two characters who try so hard to communicate but cannot seem to get through to one another.

N-L: What was your favorite moment from this show?
BC: Probably when we showed the "Scotty's Triumph" video sketch. Jake Appett and I came up with the idea for the show, wrote the sketch, and shot it two days before the show. Jake edited it the day before and the day of the show, so the fact that it actually went up and got a seemingly good response was gratifying.
RL: This show, my favorite moment was throwing Ben Ketter into a fire and watching him burn.
KM: I thought Friday's show got a surprising number of laughs. I hadn't realized my plays were all that funny to other people. My favorite moment from the show was actually before the show when everyone was goofing around and not getting ready on time. If you're not involved with student theater you're really missing out on some great goofing off.
OR: I loved working on tech for "The Girls' Room," [It's] a play where all of the theater's lights were turned off and we used a fog machine to fill the space with haze. The actresses were back-lit by a flashlight which interacted well with the fog.

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