2nd studio has become a theater company in which plays don’t just function as entertainment, but as a way to involve the uninvolved.
2nd Studio produces four shows a year and a variety show each month. With only two big shows a semester, the student-run theater company has made it a habit to take the time to select shows that will reach audiences of all shapes and sizes.
Wil Cowser is a theater major who is currently completing his last semester at SUU. Although it is only his second year as a member of 2nd studio, he currently serves as the artistic director.
“I hope to one day work in the administration of a professional theater company and saw 2nd Studio as my best first step to acquiring that education,” Cowser said. “[My] fellow students are really my best friends and greatest allies.”
2nd Studio is unique because they have grown close and become an organization in which they can come together no matter their differences. Members can feel safe and work together because they all have something in common: a love of theater.
“I like [it] because I love working and thinking collaboratively. I always do my best work when I can really think it out with people I like and trust.”
Not only has 2nd Studio become a safe space for the variety of members themselves, but they make sure the productions create this for the audience as well.
Melody English, the Outreach director for 2nd Studio, connects with Cedar City’s community, as well as with the clubs and students of SUU. 2nd Studio relies heavily on her to help them reach new audiences.
Cowser is also the director for 2nd Studio’s upcoming production of “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Originally written by David Mamet, it includes an all-male cast and is a satire in regards to Wall Street businessmen.
“It’s these seven salesmen who are the worst people in the world,” Cowser said. “There’s all of this manipulation. It has some of the most real characters I’ve ever seen written, and it treats those men and their relationships with each other as a joke. No one finishes a thought in that play, but Mamet made it work.”
It may seem as though by choosing a play with an all-male cast, they would be choosing division over inclusion. Because the theater department is made up of 70% female and 30% male students, however, this was the perfect way to make sure everyone was getting the spotlight they needed, no matter the gender.
Although this play doesn’t celebrate diversity and is one of the least “traditionally inclusive plays,” it let’s us laugh at their lack of social awareness and brings attention to why it is important to be inclusive.
“This is the year we could do a play with an all-male cast because of other plays like Coriolanus and Legally Blonde [with a focus on females].”
When choosing what plays 2nd Studio will be showing throughout the year, Cowser explained that they sit down as a group and consider a very important question: how do we involve the people that don’t normally get involved?
“We always want to be aware and respectful of cultures and all different types of students, and we highlight that whenever we can.”
Last semester, during Mental Health Awareness Week, 2nd Studio chose “Tigers Be Still” by Kim Rosenstock. Emma Folwell directed this play, and the cast of four actors successfully presented a show to connect with those struggling with depression.
In November, they chose the Off-Broadway comedy “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” by Steve Martin. This play placed Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso at a cafe together, uniting scientists and artists alike.
Glengarry Glen Ross will be playing Feb. 20 through 24 at 7:30 p.m in the Black Box Theater, located in the Auditorium. Tickets will be $5, making it an affordable option for date night or an evening with friends.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” by Roger Bean, directed by SUU senior and Theater Arts major Akemi Nakashima, will be up later in the semester after Cowser’s show to wrap up their four productions.
It’s a hard task, choosing productions that will include everyone. Despite the challenge, 2nd Studio has continued to sit down and address the question again and again: “How can we involve the uninvolved?”
For more information on 2nd Studio and the work they’re doing, visit their Instagram page @2ndstudio or their Facebook page “SUU 2nd Studio.”
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos by: Christopher Dimond