As the spring semester is coming to a close, seniors in Theatre VCU are still trying to reach their funding goal, which would allow them to tour the U.S. with their senior showcase.
Their showcase, “Uncommonwealth,” features a variety of performances from every senior in the department. In its tour of the United States this summer, theater seniors hope the show will display some of the varied talent of the different performers and attract the attention of agencies and potential employers.
The tour includes trips to New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Funding for the event is entirely independent from the university, so students currently have an IndieGoGo campaign.
The performance will feature 16 different performers, and has been assistant directed by former theater student Connor Scully and current senior Aaron Logan Mauck. Mauck was originally going to be a part of the performance but had to withdraw following tonsil-removal surgery.
Elizabeth Sena Kovacich is one of the performers in the show, and said that the show will be a fun blend of multiple styles of performance.
“It’s a lot different from the showcases that I’ve seen where it’s just, ‘Here’s a scene, here’s a monologue,’” Kovacich said. “A lot of them flow into each other and we feed off each other’s energy.”
The show retains a relatively high energy throughout its entirety. Director and VCU theater professor Paul Michael Valley said he intended for the show to remain largely lighthearted and comedic, with only brief moments of tension and drama.
Kovacich is part of two scenes and is also presenting a monologue. She and two other seniors will be doing a fight scene choreographed by other students.
The showcase differs from the VCU dance and music departments’ senior showcases in that it isn’t required in order to graduate. Students may opt out of the performance for any reason.
“People chose not to join in for various reasons,” Kovacich said. “Some people said they didn’t like the professor teaching it, some people couldn’t afford it, and some people just wanted to get started with their careers, so they left Richmond.”
Paul Michael Valley teaches the senior showcase course, and was also the director for the show. According to Kovacich, there’s been controversy surrounding both Valley’s directing style and the schedule of the show, which led to some students having much more limited stage time.
“It’s usually very fun and lighthearted and he’s usually very direct with what he wants,” Kovacich said. “Sometimes what he says can be a little confusing so he has to explain it, but for the most part it’s a very fun atmosphere.”
Kovacich said Valley is an experienced actor known mainly in New York City, but also in several other cities around the United States. He will make arrangements for various directors, casting agencies and other members of the performance world to attend the events.
“I think it is important,” Kovacich said. “I don’t think I’m going to get any agents or anything, but I’m hoping for some handshakes and to get some names. I’m viewing it as a, ‘Hi, I’m Elizabeth. This is who I am.’ Hopefully that will start a conversation.”
As of press time, they have raised $4,925, a little less than half of their goal of $10,000. The seniors have already pooled together their own money to cover the costs of transportation, venue rental fees, housing, marketing and additional costs. The funds raised from this campaign will help to reimburse the seniors for the immense costs.
While on tour, the performers will also attend workshops and master classes that will help train them on particular skills which may later help them get jobs. Some of these workshops include a three-day master class on film acting and auditioning in Los Angeles and improvisational acting workshops in Atlanta and New York City.
The seniors will be doing a free performance of the senior showcase on April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Raymond Hodges Theater at VCU before taking the show on the road.
If you’re interested in donating to their campaign, you can find the instructions to do so at indiegogo.com/projects/uncommonwealth-national-tour. The final date for donations is May 2.
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