Whatcom Students Break A Leg In Drama Club

Story by Rob Andrilla, Photo by Alix Le Touzé

A Member of the Drama Club in costume
A Member of the Drama Club in costume

From musicals to student-directed one-act plays, Whatcom Community College’s Drama Club provides an opportunity for students interested in enjoying the theatre arts, learning what goes into producing a play, or getting their toes wet with a first acting experience.

Advised by Professor Gerry Large, Drama Club has been a fixture at Whatcom for 12 years. When students expressed a strong interest in the Drama department’s plays, he founded the club at Whatcom in 2001. “It’s more fair to say that it [Drama Club] evolved out of the plays,” Large said.

The club consists of about 25 members, and is headed by President Jay McDougal. He has been involved in all four of the Drama Club’s productions since last spring.

He said his favorite Drama Club show to date was the one-act play festival last year, where a series of short plays were performed in succession. The show was put on by a “really special group of people,” McDougal said in reference to the one-act cast and crew. This year, McDougal said he is enjoying the role of being an actor in the club’s productions.

This quarter’s production, which opened May 30 at 7:30 p.m., marked the third consecutive year of One-Act Plays being performed at Whatcom.

Large said that every year the Drama Club puts on an average of three shows, one per quarter. In past quarters, that number has fluctuated due to student demand and availability.

One medium that has allowed for growth within the club is the One-Act Play Festivals, put on once a year.

With the tradition of one-acts continuing, additional opportunities for actors, directors, and all aspects of a theatrical production have become available for club members. “[One-Acts] create a shell for student work,” Large said. In the past students have not only directed one-acts, but also debuted their own writing for dramatic performances.

24 students are involved in the One-Acts, including actors as well as the offstage roles of directors and tech support, from lighting operators to set designers and stage hands.

Last quarter Large directed the collaboration of Drama Club, academic Drama classes and the Music department to produce the show “But is it Art?”

Usually two of the shows are directed by Large or other Drama department faculty, with the third show directed by students. Increasing club member participation has fueled the expansion from the club’s more modest past. “In the last three years, students have been directing more,” Large said.

One-Acts and full-length productions are not the only type of play that has performed at Whatcom. This past fall, a musical titled “The Spitfire Grill” was performed. It was directed by Shawn Fuller, who teaches drama as adjunct faculty.

Large said it was only the second musical performed at Whatcom in Drama Club’s 12 year history, because of the complexity of coordinating an orchestra and a theatrical cast. “Whatcom doesn’t have a large orchestral base to draw from,” Large said. “We had to hire an orchestra from the community, which cost quite a bit.”

Both McDougal and Large are excited about the future of Drama Club at Whatcom, but also have fond memories of their past productions. Large’s favorite show that Drama Club has put on was “The Odyssey”, adapted for children, with an audience of about 400 who drove in from all over the county.

“At one point, the Cyclops exclaimed ‘Let’s Dance!’ and a disco ball came down from the ceiling,” he said.
Large says fall quarter has two shows in store, one of which is a play by Burton Baumgarner, titled “Don’t Say ‘MacBeth!’”
In this play, a Drama student struggles with Shakespeare’s great Scottish tragedy and learns about their community’s experiences with it.

Auditions for this show will be held June 4, in the Syre Theatre, from 11-4PM.

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