Theatre UCF gets down to monkey business in 'Trevor'
Lucas stands backstage with his headphones in, listening to "The Way of the Warrior" and preparing to be AD and Jerry. Victoria jogs around the theater, pausing only to do her vocal exercises and preparing to be Ashley.
Jordan sits in the audience, anxious to view the first Theatre UCF play he has been a part of since graduating 12 years ago, and preparing to critique how the fight scenes he choreographed go.
Krystel sits in the crowd with her parents, nervous.
It's the fifth Theatre UCF play she's worked as part of the creative team for, but the first time she's been the head costume designer. But before pump-up songs, jogging, nerves or lights, there's a lot of work that went in to making this night possible.
After "Trevor" was chosen as one of the plays to be put on by Theatre UCF this school year, Krystel Colon-Mendoza, the costume designer, was the first of these four to know that she would be working on it. She found out in January, and throughout the whole spring semester she worked on her vision for the costumes of the play.
Jordan Reeves, the fight director, is in his first semester teaching at UCF. He is an alumni of the theater program, and found out he would be working on "Trevor" just weeks before the semester began. Lucas Perez, who plays both AD and Jerry, and Victoria Gluchoski, who plays Ashley, were the last to know that they would be in the play.
Casting for Theatre UCF happens the week before school starts. You get five minutes to do a song and two monologues before you're ushered out.
Then you wait until callbacks to know if you've been given a chance to come back and show how well you fit the part.
"[There's a] long Jesus-Last Supper table of directors, professors, grad students and other people you don't really even know," said Gluchoski of the audition process. Theatre UCF does it this way on purpose. They make it intimidating for their actors so they're prepared for auditions in the real world. After auditions, before rehearsals start, the cast has over a month to go over the script.
Everyone has different ways of memorizing lines, Lucas likes to act the whole play himself. He uses an audio recorder to record himself doing other people's lines, then plays it back and practices his own part in real time.
The first rehearsal, which happens in late September, is when Krystel gets to show her ideas to the actors. She takes them through a PowerPoint of the characters costumes, and why they look like they do.
"We wanted to have surrealist feeling to the play," Krystel said. "I decided with the colors to make that happen."
About a week into the rehearsal process is when Jordan gets to work with the cast for the first time. The script doesn't explicitly detail out the fight scenes in the play, so it's up to Jordan and the actors how choreograph it.
"Its a little bit like doing a dance, you have to know what's happening, and you have to know how to react and do all these things so that it comes off successful without anybody being hurt, but the audience has that illusion," Jordan said.
Over the next six weeks of rehearsing, things continue to get better and better from night to night. Lucas looks at the notes on his script to tell how the play is improving.
"That's how you can tell if it's going well or not, if you look at your notes and they're the same notes [as before], well you're not going anywhere," he said. "But if you're going through this and progressing and [your notes] keep getting smaller and smaller, well then the main stuff is already there. The small stuff can be nuanced and made more interesting."
Then before they know it, they've moved from practicing in the theater building to practicing in the actual theater. Suddenly when Jordan points to where a plate should break he's not pointing to an imaginary wall, he's pointing to the actual spot the plate will break.
Suddenly it's a dress rehearsal and the actors are wearing their actual costumes.
Suddenly Krystel is freaking out just a little bit because a certain belt that was supposed to be here a week ago hasn't shown up yet.
Suddenly it's not just the director in the stands.
Suddenly the adrenaline is pumping through your veins.
Suddenly everything Victoria's practiced since wanting to become an actor when she saw her sister in a play as an elementary schooler needs to be put into practice.
Suddenly the man fighting the minotaur in "The Chronicles of Narnia" that made Lucas want to become an actor has passed the baton.