Theater Arts Students Represent GCC at ‘Festival Fringe’

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Pirates, folks dressed up in Renaissance costumes, and a giant bat boy filled the roads of High Street. The street, which was also known as the “Royal Mile” which led up to Edinburgh Castle, were teeming with entertainers filling the air with music. All were promoting performances occurring at venues surrounding the castle. The animated activities and enthusiasm are known as the annual “Festival Fringe” held in Edinburgh, Scotland and the destination of GCC’s very own theatre department last August.

The small group of ten students flew to the “Festival Fringe,” to promote and perform, former GCC theatre arts professor, Ken Gray’s play “Something’s Missing,” a tale of survival and hope in the life of an abducted child. Having a sensitive subject matter such as the one in “Something’s Missing,” gave the impression that the reaction of the audience would be less than accepting, which proved otherwise at the festival.

“All theatre is about the audience,”Gray said.

Jose “Shermie” Aguilar,18, a member of the street team said, “When the play was performed here the audience was shocked and taken aback since it was a taboo topic, in Scotland though ,at the festival, though they found the play unique and interesting.”

The play was performed at one of the Rocket venues, located around High Street, called “The Roxy.” Ashley Ratcliffe, 21, a theatre arts major, also known as the “den mother” of the group, spoke about the excitement happening backstage.

“It was pretty hectic backstage though,” she said. “We only had 10 minutes to move the set and set up, but we were really professional about it,” describing the technicalities backstage.

“In the end,” she continued, “the play was what mattered most.”

Promotion also became another problem,
“Here we are, surrounded by music and lively entertainers and we’re promoting a play that’s touching on a real subject matter and more serious,” said Tiffany Brian, 18, leader of the street team. The play’s street team which was in charge of advertising the play by putting up posters and handing out flyers. “We’re trying to promote an American play where American culture is not very popular,” said Brian.

The team would stand on High Street alongside performers endorsing their play. “We even had people dress up as a Minnie Mouse and a princess, just to attract people to come to our show,” laughs Brian. All the hard work paid off, because the venue was over half full. “Opening night was the biggest crowd ever,” Brian said proudly. Lead actor Carlo Morelli , 20, said, “In the end it was all about the street team” in relation to the successful viewer turnout.

Morelli played the lead character, Ryan, and displayed an “incredible performance for the audience,” according to Brian. It was Morelli’s first time playing in a lead role outside the of United States.

“I was at ease and found no difficulty doing playing the part. It’s not often that GCC gets a chance to represent its very own, original play, written by its own teachers [Ken Gray] in another country. I was there to do a professional job, and do it to the best of my ability,” said Morelli.

Morelli said that the biggest challenge for him was playing the different ages that his character portrayed.

“Performing at GCC, it was hard to capture the different ages, and learning to be older was hard. But at the festival it was the complete opposite. I had to learn to be younger,” chuckled Morelli.

“Carlo’s acting grew by leaps and bounds,” said Aguilar, when asked to describe Carlo’s performance. Professor Gray praised Morelli on his presentation, “As a performer, Carlo grew stronger. Each subsequent performance became Carlo’s finest hour as an artist. I hope he becomes a respected working actor, but if he does not, if some other profession lures him away, this experience has made him a more loving, tolerant, and understanding human being. I have a profound respect for this young fellow for taking on this challenge and forging from his own raw materials a formidable artist of himself.”

Despite the obstacles they faced in promoting it, the students enjoyed themselves. “There were people there from all over, from Iraq and from Japan,” observed Ratcliffe. Cultures from all over the world came to offer a piece of their talent at the festival, making it a more memorable experience for those attending it.

“The whole experience wasn’t really a competition. It was a display of talent and it was what you brought from your side of the world,” described Brian. The festival allowed the students to open their eyes to the incredible talents that came from across the globe.

Through it all, strong friendships, respect and admiration were also built.

“Just like the saying goes, you really don’t know someone until you live with them,” said Brian. The group stayed at student housing flats called Wright’s houses.

“We had to stay in a small room meant for five and [we] had to stuff 10 people into one room,” said Brian, speaking about her experience. A seemingly irritable and uncomfortable arrangement turned into a bonding experience for her. “You learn to help them out where they need it,” said Brian.