Drama in the drama department: Lack of diversity on campus leads director to look elsewhere

Recent recasting in the Department of Theatre has stirred discussion of an elephant in the room: Miami’s lack of racial diversity. The department’s upcoming production of “We Are Proud to Present…” held auditions last fall and posted a cast list before students were released for winter break. But the last-minute withdrawal of two cast members left director Torie Wiggins scrambling to find replacements in the last three days before their first rehearsal last Tuesday. What made the situation particularly dire? The two roles which needed to be recast had to be black males, as specified in the script. “I wasn’t upset with [the actors who dropped],” Wiggins said. “It was just like, I’m not necessarily in a demographic where I have my pick, so my only freak-out was, ‘Now where do I find black men?’” Senior theatre major Anthony Thompson, who was originally cast as Actor 4, decided after a second round of interviews a few weeks ago to take an internship with Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles for the spring semester while finishing up the two credits he needs to graduate online. “I couldn’t justify turning down an opportunity like that,” said Thompson, referring to his internship. “I accepted it even though it was an incredibly difficult decision, especially since it’s not all the time that Miami has shows that showcase people of color.” According to Miami University’s...

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Stressing the benefits of study away

This past weekend, the university saw a blur of students and professors rushing back into the Oxford city limits, thus ending their winter vacations and settling back in for a new semester, as is the late January custom at Miami. But for members of the Miami community that traveled for a J-term study away program, this transition was particularly stressful. Daniele Fioretti, an Italian professor who spent J-term traveling to his home country of Italy with students, said that he usually tries to prepare his syllabi for spring semester ahead of time, but to no avail. “The days before the semester starts are always very hectic,” he admitted. But Fioretti believes that the student benefits are worth it. “Traveling abroad is a very important experience for a student,” Fioretti said. “We are living in a world that is more and more global and interconnected, so having first-hand experience of a different culture helps to view one’s own culture in a different way.” Theatre professor Lewis Magruder feels the same way. Magruder took a group of theatre majors and non-majors to London for an immersive program in which they studied various aspects of the theatre world. “For me, the benefits are being part of creating and leading something that enlarges students’ understanding of theatre, the world and, ultimately, themselves,” said Magruder. “Each time I have run the program, I have...

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Miami’s first student-written musical, ‘Octets,’ begins production

Miami University students are taking their talents to every avenue of the theatrical world with the production of “Octets,” a brand new musical that will premiere next semester in Studio 88. The project will be written, composed, directed, produced, designed and performed by students. The musical tells the story of two feuding singing groups, headed by leads Clay and Vicki, at a university resembling Miami. The show explores relationships that form between various characters, including a Shakespearean romance that is emphasized by lyrics written in iambic pentameter. Sophomore marketing and arts management double major Austin Lamewona first came up with the concept for “Octets” three years ago. “I initially wrote a couple scenes, but I don’t know how to compose music, so I set it aside for awhile,” Lamewona said. “And then the summer before coming to Miami, I wasn’t majoring in theatre like I thought I would, and I felt like I needed a project to dive into so I wouldn’t lose that part of myself. I found the scenes I had written and decided to give it another try.” After a few years of practice writing plays, Lamewona felt more confident coming back to his stowed-away idea for a musical. “I have never written a musical before, or written lyrics for music very seriously, but I am a playwright, so it’s not a completely foreign venture for...

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Stage Left’s ‘Cry-Baby: The Musical’ will make you laugh until you cry

Miami’s only on-campus student-run theatre organization, Stage Left, will be putting on its fall musical, “Cry-Baby,” this weekend at the Wilks Theater in the Armstrong Student Center. With 21 cast members, this will be one of the largest musicals Stage Left has produced in its history, and the biggest production to go up in the Wilks Theater to date. “Cry-Baby: The Musical” is adapted from the 1990 John Waters film of the same name. The story is set in Baltimore, where the audience meets two lovestruck teenagers, Allison and Wade, who are from different parts of town. The teenagers’...

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Having a ball at the Beaux Arts Ball

Black and gold balloons decorated the entrance to the Oxford Community Arts Center. Attendees roamed the building in suits and flapper dresses, nibbling on hors d’oeuvres and dancing to the live music escaping from the main ballroom. Laughter and excited exclamations bubbled over into the hallways as students, parents and Oxford locals enjoyed an evening of visual and performance art. It was the second annual Beaux Arts Ball, hosted in partnership by the American Institute of Architecture Students and Late Night Miami this past Saturday evening. Approximately 300 people either attended or performed at the event throughout the course of the evening. The Beaux Arts Ball is a national event that has been put on since the 1930s. Up until 10 years ago, the American Institute of Architecture Students put on the event every year. The ball took a six year hiatus and then returned in the fall of 2016 when last year’s senior architecture students decided it was a tradition worthy of bringing back to Miami students and the Oxford community. The Oxford Community Arts Center was chosen as the venue because of its longstanding tradition of hosting the Beaux Arts Ball. “This space has a draw to it,” said Molly Meyer, senior architecture major and secretary of the American Institute of Architecture Students. “It has a long history. We’re lucky to have adults that can help us...

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