By Mitch Wills
Theatre is a magical art form. One cannot find a more immediate art that tells a story of what it is to be human. Many of the conceptions of theatre to those on the outside revolve around acting. But there is an equally important force behind the scenes that allows theatre to go where no other art form can: design.
Colorado State University theatre has become one of the most premiere theatre schools in the state in the last five years because of its committed excellence not only to acting, but to all aspects of theatre. CSU continues its mission to provide students with a broad scope of opportunities in all aspects of the theatre, while presenting the community with the highest quality of theatre-going experience.
With the fall 2013 production of Orestes 2.0 by Charles Mee, the creative team brings fresh faces, new guests, and unique concepts that will give theatre aficionados in the community an experience of a lifetime.
The show features two guest members of the creative team: stage director Sanaz Ghajarrahimi and projection designer Alex Koch. These two talented professionals are featured at CSU as part of the theatre program’s second annual Guest Artist Initiative, sponsored in part by the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund. The show also features a new face to the theatre department, new faculty member Roger Hanna.
Hanna is the newest addition to CSU’s stellar theatre faculty. With a strong career in scenic design that encompasses many professional productions, as well as university experience at New York University, Rutgers University, the University of Miami, University of Minnesota, Temple University, Yale, and as of this year, Colorado State University.
“I did a show for the Yale Dramatic Association and it reminded me how fun it was to teach,” Hanna said. “After that, a job came up at the University of Miami and one of the directors there was Tony Award Winner Tommy Tune, who was developing a new show. I had a great time the year that I was there and I thought, ‘I’ve got to look for another teaching job’.”
It didn’t take him long to realize that CSU would be the perfect place for the next chapter in his career.
“Between the town of Fort Collins and the faculty here, it was quite clear to me after the first phone interview that CSU is the place to go.”
Hanna could not have come to CSU at a more opportune time. His first semester here, with the presence of Ghajarrahimi and Koch in the second year of the Guest Artist Initiative, the three came together to form a de facto “Theatre Dream Team” to the production of Orestes 2.0.
“A lot of directors and designers will ask you why you want to do something and [Sanaz] and I both sort of said, ‘Why not try something’?” Hanna said. “We got a lot of truly interesting things going in this play because we said, ‘why not?’” continued Hanna. “In continuing the process in tech with Alex working on the video projections, we couldn’t ask for a better collaborator to come in and really bring this thing home.”
Much of the success with the production came with openness and honesty with the team members in the creative process. This candor allowed for true collaboration to take place, which granted the dream team the fearlessness to create a perfect setting for the audience to truly lose themselves in the world of Orestes.
“Every time something occurs to me, I just blurt it out,” Hanna said. “I found that lot of people that I work with, the people I want to work with again anyhow, don’t mind that at all.”
Similarly, Hanna appreciates similar feedback from his collaborators whenever it is necessary for the benefit of the overall production.
“I don’t mind when somebody has an idea about the set,” Hanna continued. “The people that are just interested more in putting on a good show rather than being the end-all authority tend to gravitate toward each other. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself working with Sanaz or Alex again because, from my point of view, everything went about as good as it could have.”
Theatre is never just about one person; it’s about the teamwork with everyone involved in the production from start to finish. Along with countless people involved with Orestes 2.0, Hanna and the dream team have created a wild, edge-of-your seat production that will provide audiences a theatre experience they will never forget.
“It will be in your face, it will be loud,” Hanna said. “The way the characters interact with the disoriented setting and the themes in the play will certainly cause you to think. Maybe it will make you think about your role in the world in a different way.”
Orestes 2.0 performances are nightly Thursdays through Sundays, running Oct. 17, 18, 19, 20, 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at the University Center of the Arts, 1400 Remington Street.
Tickets are $8 for CSU students and $18 for adults. This show is not appropriate for youth under 18 due to strong adult content and themes. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) Ticket Office in the UCA Griffin Lobby, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at CSUArtsTickets.com. Advance purchase is recommended to avoid at-the-door fees.