Note: Former Uni Drama teacher Jack Mitchell who currently serves as the Secondary Arts Consultant, California Department of Education, brought Uni alum together for a production of Rent on July 19 and 20. Modest assistance from UHEF and a dedicated cast supported the production. For a backstage peek at the collaboration, witness the dialogue between Mitchell and drama Alum, Uni graduate Alex Grabarchuk ‘05 below.
Mitchell: We all know that theatre has the capacity to entertain, instruct, and enrich the lives of both performers and audience members. Since leaving Uni in 2007, I am reminded daily of all that I have learned in and through the theatre. To spend time again with my former students, now friends, and unwitting teachers and to create a performance piece that might draw other Alums back to Uni seemed like a win all the way around.
Grabarchuk: When I first started bugging Mr. Mitchell, about getting together and doing an alumni show, I was half-kidding. I missed the atmosphere of Stivelman Theater, the amazing creative energy of my drama peers, and the profound guidance of Mitch himself. With the insistence and talents of another Uni theater alum, Arian Khaefi (’01), we wore Mitch down to start making Rent real. Fliers were out to alumni who had worked with Mitch in the past, and we’d audition via YouTube. The rehearsal period could take no more than 2 weeks. Mitch would direct. Arian and I would co-music-direct.
Mitchell: We decided on RENT because it is about holding on to relationships at the riskiest times in our lives. The production was itself, a risk that carried with it capacity for reward (as most do). It was the best of what reunions have to offer; an opportunity to reflect on the past, reconnect in a special moment, and to create and take away new memories and “lessons” to sustain us until next we meet again, and to have a load of fun in the process.
Some highlights of the “behind the scenes” process can be seen in this commemorative video put together by alumna April Warren (’99): http://tinyurl.-com/unihighdoesRENT!