From a coven of witches to a distorted tale of Dostoevsky’s prison sentence, this year’s Independent Artist Series will feature four different performances, three of which are original works written by Miami students.
The Independent Artist Series is run through the theatre department each spring. Students can petition to put on a production as part of the series and, if selected, they direct and produce the show on their own.
For Mackenzie Kirkman, a graduate student who wrote the show “Man, The Creature,” working with an entirely student-run production has given her and the cast a chance to make the show their own.
“I think it’s really nice to give everyone the experience of having complete control over a show,” Kirkman said. “It’s a big learning experience to have both every failure and every big success be your responsibility.”
“Man, The Creature” is loosely based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, “Notes from the Dead House,” one of the earliest prison memoirs. Kirkman wrote the piece as part of her master’s thesis, which focused on the way violence is portrayed on stage.
Though there are four different shows in the series, the cast of each show will help out as crew members for the others. Sophomore Kyle Carson said this repertoire theatre model, where students take on multiple roles in both the cast and the crew, is helpful when it comes to preparing for the future.
“The general consensus is that we want to be doing many different things,” Carson said. “A lot of theatre is repertoire theatre, with people who have to be good in many different roles.”
Carson is co-directing the 15 minute musical “21 Chump Street” with senior Holly West. Their show is the only show in the series this year that was not written by a student; however, since it is a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, Carson said he’s heard many people talking about the show in anticipation.
“It’s been awesome exploring this very weird but very exciting process,” Carson said. “[The show] has stirred up a lot of hype in the department and it’s great to see other people excited about what we’re doing.”
The other two shows in the series are “Ceremonials,” a devised piece that tells the story of an outcast woman meeting up with a coven of witches, and “Internal Affairs,” the story of a depressed man who becomes obsessed with sleeping after he begins dreaming about a friend from college.
“Ceremonials” was written and directed by Rachel Brandenburg, a graduate student. She says her show, and the Independent Artist Series as a whole, gives the actors a chance to create their own characters.
“I think it gives every actor in the piece their own voice,” Brandenburg said. “Every actor involved helped write their own character’s story, which I don’t see a lot in other productions I’ve been a part of. Everyone brings something new to the table and it makes a more cohesive unit.”
The Independent Artist Series will premiere this weekend, Feb. 22-24, with matinees at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 7:30 p.m. in Hiestand 100. Tickets are free, but required due to limited seating in the theater. Information on obtaining tickets can be found on the Independent Artist Series blog.