Sixteen Troy University students will be performing a collection of scenes, some with stage combat, for the public later this month.
The Troy University Department of Theatre and Dance will present “Our Vital Struggle,” a performance of multiple scenes from different plays with authors ranging from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams.
Adjunct professor Jesse Graham and lecturer Trey Clark assembled and directed the production. Both are in their first year of employment with the university.
Graham described the production as a “devised piece.” This is a piece of theater where the performers and directors collaborate to create the work.
“The show is an exploration between the students and the directors on the issues and themes that the world at large deals with on a daily basis,” Graham said. “We all kind of worked on it together. We kept playing around with ideas until we found something.”
Graham said she wanted to push her students out of their comfort zones.
“We are interested with exploring the things that make us uncomfortable and with asking the hard questions,” Graham said. “We wanna talk about sexuality, we wanna talk about equality, we wanna talk about racism… You have to get people in a certain creative state. There’s a great sense of play and uncertainty.
“I want my students to learn that they are capable of so much more than they think they are.”
A complex factor in the play is the fact that the students will be performing a lot of stage combat in the scenes.
“ ‘Our Vital Struggle’ is an amalgamation of scenes depicting the things that we as human beings are most apt to fight for,” co-director Clark said. “Violence only occurs when words no longer suffice.”
Clark also served as fight director for the show. Clark, who has been certified in stage combat for three years, says that the students can benefit from learning how to safely and correctly perform stage combat.
“It’s a valuable tool… these students are artists in training,” Clark said. “I wanted to be able to give it as a gift to them.”
The rehearsal process has lasted roughly seven weeks. The rehearsals included workouts for the actors as well as many hours of scene and fight work.
Cast member Miranda Walton said that the process has been difficult but helpful.
“It has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone,” said Walton, a junior theater education major from Alabaster. “I’ve had to take risks and find a connection with a lot of different characters.”
Graham said that the collaboration with the students was a learning experience for her.
“I have learned that encouraging people to have a voice makes that voice a lot stronger,” Graham said. “The more and more they have to contribute, the stronger the piece becomes as a whole.”
“Our Vital Struggle” will premier in the Long Hall Dance Studio on Feb. 24-27 at 7 p.m. and on Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $5, and tickets can be purchased at the Trojan Center Box Office or on the department’s website.