Students to ‘Make a Move’ through devised play: created storylines and improvised acting

"Make a Move" play was devised by its actors and directed by theater education professor Leslie Van Leishout. Photo courtesy of Theresa San Luis

Theater students created the play “Make a Move” and will act with some improvisation in their performances.

Theater education professor Leslie Van Leishout, also director of “Make a Move,” allowed the six actors and theater majors—senior Jeff Bennett, senior Tyson Cole, sophomore Halley Robertson, freshman Erin McCarkel, junior Josh Funneman and freshman Kenny Coleman—to devise the play.

Van Leishout said the play is “family-friendly” and has many sketches based on the theme of movement such as in relationships, growing up or breaking out of a mold.

The one-hour performance includes every genre possible according to Van Leishout: non-verbal pieces, music, dance and sketches that have been created by students.  Children’s literature was also included, such as Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” in which the actors adapted lines from the story.

Van Leishout said everyone wrote something for the play’s theme. There was physical movement–male actors dressed in tutus imitating ballet, or a basketball sketch with an invisible ball; and symbolic movement–a shaving scene with boys transitioning into manhood, or the evolving of two best friends’ relationship through the years.

Robertson said she enjoyed the freedom that Van Leishout gave them to develop the sketches. She also loves improvisation– the “quick thinking, quick witted part” and “to make everything funny.”

“We have to write out everything and come up with our different variations of movements and different ways… we got to evoke movement in different situations,” Robertson said. “That’s been the most [fun] part. Being able to collaborate with everybody in the cast. It’s fresh and it’s new and it’s fun.”

McCarkel said she has loved writing since grade school and enjoyed being creative to help form ideas for the play.

“Leslie’s given us the freedom to create something on our own and introduce it to our cast mates who are wonderful…,” McCarkel said. “To put something together– that’s really special. Everyone is great to work with.”

According to Van Leishout, the cast she directs is thoughtful, enthusiastic and creative.

“We love everything we’re doing so much and [the students] keep coming back with another idea…” Van Leishout said. “It’s tricky to find that turnoff point because they’re just so creative right now. They’ve kind of opened up to that devising, which none of them had experience with.”

Sophomore theatre major and stage manager Shawna Trusty said she had the actors participate in improvisation games from which some of the pieces originated.

“The actors bring everything in, but being able to take what they give me and cut it down or to put it in script form was a really interesting experience… and getting the actors to give you the information you need because it was actually a collaborative piece,” Trusty said.

“Make a Move” will be held 7:30 p.m. April 2 and 3 at Dunham Hall Theater. For ticket information contact the Box Office at 618.650.2774. SIUE students who present ID receive free admission to the performance.

The cast will perform the play noontime, April 2, in Goshen Lounge during the College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium.

As part of the SIUE community outreach, performances will be held 9 a.m. April 3rd for East St. Louis High School and 3:30 p.m. April 8th at Meridian Gardens Senior Living.

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