Allie Romano, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, worked 40 hours last week. She wasn’t at her job or doing schoolwork – Romano was designing and building the set for Stage Troupe’s production of “Hedda Gabler.”
Romano said it is not uncommon for her to spend 40 hours a week with Stage Troupe, but in the end it’s worth it.
“It’s a lot, but I keep signing up for it for a reason,” she said. “It’s something I love to do and it’s a built in friendship group.”
Stage Troupe is Boston University’s oldest and largest theater group. The group is open to all undergraduate students, except for those majoring in theater.
The group has approximately 300 members and about 120 of them regularly participate in shows and events. Eight shows are produced each year, along with other special projects.
The group allows students with a passion for theater to bond with one another, something Romano said she is thankful for. Having acted in high school, Romano said she wanted to get involved in a group on campus when she came to BU and began to tech for various shows. She then auditioned for Stage Troupe.
“It kind of snowballed,” Romano said.
Romano is now the treasurer of Stage Troupe, and in addition to decorating the set for “Hedda Gabler” this semester, she was in the cast of the play “Bug” and also auditioned to perform in a one-act play.
No prior experience in theater is required to join Stage Troupe and Romano said everyone is not obligated to be as involved as she is.
Chris Hamilton, a senior in CAS, found out about Stage Troupe during freshman orientation and decided it that was a group he wanted to be a part of. Hamilton began directing plays his sophomore year and discovered that directing is what he is most passionate about.
“I know what makes good acting and I know how to make good actors better,” he said.
Hamilton directed “Bug” this semester. He said being the director is time consuming, as it entails rehearsing with the actors and meeting with the set design and tech crews to make sure everything is going smoothly.
“It’s a huge time commitment,” he said. “I would say I work on it more than I work on any of my classes.”
The process takes a lot of work, but Hamilton isn’t complaining.
“It’s what I love to do more than anything,” he said.
FINDING A COMMUNITY
Stage Troupe hosts several events throughout out the semester to foster a sense of community among its members, such as one act plays and the tech show, where the tech crew (or “techies”) become the actors and actors tech the show.
Stage Troupe also hosts “Combat,” where groups have 24 hours to write, rehearse and put together a 20-minute play. Members from other theater groups at BU such as Liquid Fun, On Broadway, Shakespeare Society and Wandering Minds participate in the event.
Events like Combat allow Stage Troupe members to get to know members from other performance groups on campus. Hamilton said the groups are supportive of one another and he often goes to see On Broadway shows.
“There is definitely a theater community at large, especially between Stage Troupe and On Broadway,” Hamilton said.
Megan Bernatchez, a sophomore in CAS, is a member of both Stage Troupe and Wandering Minds. Her performance in “All My Sons,” which opens this weekend, will be her first for Stage Troupe. Bernatchez said she was somewhat intimidated at first but is glad to have joined the group.
“I’ve loved being in Stage Troupe so far,” she said. “It’s a cool community and I’m very lucky to have found such an awesome group of people to collaborate with.”
Bernatchez said she has found the theater community to be very supportive as a whole.
“Lots of people I know do multiple shows a semester and I find that everyone is really supportive of one another, going to multiple shows a weekend to see all the groups works,” she said.
Stage Troupe creates an opportunity for students to peruse their artistic interests but it also provides a sense of family that can be hard to come by at a large university like BU.
“I came to college feeling very disconnected and overwhelmed and Stage Troupe provided a family and a lot of comfort for me,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think I would have enjoyed college nearly as much without it.”
Marcus Doyle, a sophomore in the School of Hospitality Administration, directed “Hedda Gabler,” which ran from Thursday to Saturday this weekend.
Doyle has been involved with Stage Troupe since his freshman year and this was his first time directing a production.
Doyle said he felt very supported by the people he worked with, which made for a successful show. He said he also sought advice from Stage Troupe alumni, who were very helpful throughout the process.
“I had enough trust in the people I was working with so I could just sit back and watch a really good show,” he said, explaining that he felt relatively relaxed for the opening of the play.
Doyle said he was proud of the work that he and the cast and crew accomplished and was extremely happy with the finished product.
“I think we put forth a very creative, artistic piece of theater, which I was very happy with,” he said.
As the vice president of special projects for Stage Troupe, Doyle said he is happy to be involved with people who love theater as much as he does.
“Everyone is just so passionate about what they do,” he said.