Goodbye, previews: TAW calls it quits

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Mikaela Rabizadeh media editor

After their most recent show, Anon, the Theatre Arts Workshop (TAW) classes will be discontinuing all previews. Traditionally, the theatre program hosts previews prior to upcoming shows, which are meant to spark student interest in performances. The previews, however, did not have an effect on student turnout in the audience, nor did the actors enjoy performing them.  

Senior Angela Braun, a member of the theatre department since her freshman year, has never been a fan of previews. She stresses that regardless of the hard work the department puts into its shows, the student body continues to disrespect the actors on stage.

“I’ve always hated previews because we never got any respect for anything we did. Regardless of if it was a good show or not, everyone was just always super disrespectful,” Braun said. “People don’t think we can hear them, but we can hear everything on stage. It feels awful. It’s just too hard on the people on stage.”

Theatre director Karen Chandler, who came into the department with 30 years of educational theatre experience, has rarely seen previews to be effective. However, when previews became a burden to her actors, it was then that she resolved to eliminate them completely.

“[Previews] generally allow people to mock and make fun of students who are pouring their heart and soul, and hours and hours into these productions,” Chandler said. “Here’s the bottom line. If it doesn’t promote a feeling of confidence and wellbeing and my actors, why would I continue it?”

After repeated offenses by the audience, Chandler finally pulled the plug on previews when a student played pornographic noises from the audience.

“If a teacher is not sitting directly with them, the audience members are throwing things at my actors. My actors are not monkeys. They don’t want to have coins thrown at them. They don’t want to have food or wads of paper thrown at them. We actually had a student at the last assembly put on porn and play it out loud. It was the last straw for me,” Chandler said.

Senior Andrew Liner wishes that his fellow students were considerate and courteous during their shows.

“It’s just hard because we are sharing what we love. For people to make fun of it and treat us with such disrespect is unfair,” Liner said. “It would be like if someone was screaming in a student’s face during a final exam.”

Chandler claims that her students fully support her choice to do away with previews. Although the TAW students are proud of their growth as actors, the previews were burdensome to their sense of accomplishment.

“[My decision] was unilaterally welcomed throughout my students. ‘Thank you. Thank you for not putting us through that. Thank you for not allowing people to do that to us,’” Chandler said. “They’re proud of their shows–there’s pride.”

The Performing Arts Department Musical, “Mamma Mia!” will be performed March

March 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m.

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