The Master’s College students rush in to the Music Recital Hall, as Tricia Hulet, Director of TMC Theatre Arts, begins the first rehearsal for the TMC Theatre Arts production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The cast is three weeks in and starting off book, ready to wring out the nitty gritty details.
A few students walk in a little later than start time, and throwing apologetic glances at their managers and fellow actors, they find their seats. Hulet starts the rehearsal off with announcements, filling the cast in on the news since their last rehearsal, describing set and props.
“Every little thing counts. Even if it’s just holding a piece of bread,” Hulet tells them.
Following announcements a cast member is selected to give their testimony, TMC students are encouraged to ask the cast member questions. After this group exercise the rehearsal is opened in a word of prayer.
“Quiet on set!” Hulet calls to her cast and crew. Silence falls over the room. There are many giggles and squeals just outside the hall doors where some of the cast is working on their lines while they are not needed on stage. Hulet starts the first scene, and the actor snap into character.
Cast and crew all gather around, clearly excited and slightly nervous about beginning without script. Only one more rehearsal before restarts. One person could make a tiny mistake, and Hulet could call for a restart that would take them all the way back to the beginning of the script.
Listening you can hear the characters come to life through the students, concentrating on stage directions, hoping not to slip out of the accents they have created. Hulet and her assistant talk about intention within the delivery of lines.
“Keep in mind, this is only our third week of rehearsals, so its not perfect.” Hulet says.
But the progress has been significant, according cast member Steven Inabnit, a second semester freshman.
“As a cast we have transformed,” he says. “At this point you find your footing in the show. We are started to gel together and come together as a cast.”
Inabnit plays the role of Mr. Jagger.
“Mr. Jagger leaves bombs everywhere and watches the world burn,” Inabnit says. “I like to think of my character as the black velvet backdrop of a diamond, contrasting the sin and depravity of man and the good in the show.”
Another member of the cast, Desiree Teichroeb, talked about what she has enjoyed in her first theater production.
“The whole community, so many people who are so dedicated and having a theater program that is so God glorifying,” she says. About being off book, she adds, “It’s liberating in some ways, because you aren’t bound to a book. You’re getting outside your comfort zone and getting into character.”
After hearing from some of the cast it was time to hear from the Director of TMC Theatre Arts.
“There are two sides to the show, from reading lines, to telling a story. They are bringing it to life,” Hulet says. “This is my favorite part of the process. It’s not individualistic, we are trying to model the body of Christ.”
When asked about the most gratifying times as the director Hulet didn’t hesitate.
“Seeing who each cast member is, and who they are before Christ,” she says. “Sure, we’re acting, but this is a platform for discipleship. When you have to act, it is a venerable place to be. The growth is amazing when it’s embraced.”
The production open on Friday, March 20. Tickets are currently on sale.
By Stacey Schuett