TheatreVCU students clowns around on stage

Photo courtesy of Daryll Morgan Photography
Photo courtesy of Daryll Morgan Photography
Photo courtesy of Daryll Morgan Photography

A VCU student is putting on an eclectic, original theatre production, combining multiple forms of performance art to relay her life experiences that will most likely involve cake and clowning.

Connor Haggerty wrote, choreographed and directed “Obtuse” herself, basing it on events in her personal life. The production unfolds in the form of monologues, poetry, movement, clowning and mask scenes.

(I chose the name ‘Obtuse’) because it literally just means odd. It’s an over exaggerated triangle,” Haggerty said. “I thought that my piece was an odd triangle, it just fits.”

For the past two years, Haggerty has worked with a lot of mask work and clowning. Mask work explores different stereotypes in society, and the wide range of mask designs help portray those archetypes. Clowning is an abstract form of theatre involving the over exaggeration of moments in your own life.  

I love clowning, I used to go every Friday with my friend,” Haggerty said. “We just literally went around campus and did whatever we want.”

Public clowning is a method of acting that allows actors to practice improvisation and comedic skills. It’s been notably practice by famous actors including Robin Williams.

Photo courtesy of Daryll Morgan Photography
Photo courtesy of Daryll Morgan Photography

She said she began work on this production this semester, utilizing different styles and forms of theatre which she has learned throughout her life while performing.

To keep the piece from becoming stale, Haggerty said that she tried to keep the creative process quick and near the performance.

I didn’t write it too far in advance because I wanted it to be a quick process and fresh in my mind,” Haggerty said. “When I would have writer’s block, I would get up and do different improvisation and I would use masks to find inspiration for the character.”

Haggerty said comedy has been a part of her life since a young age. The actor said she was raised in a household of jokers who influenced her love of theater and satire.  

I made it my mission to become just as funny or funnier than them,” Haggerty said. “I just like making people laugh.”

Haggerty was involved in her school’s theater department all four years of high school, performing in several shows a year. She was often cast in children’s shows, or as the comic relief in plays.

She also competed in The Cappies, a program that trains high school journalism and theater students as critics and allows them to attend shows at other schools, and write reviews that were published in the local newspaper.

As a theater performance major, Haggerty is exceedingly involved in the department. Beginning her sixth production, Haggerty has explored various styles of performance in addition to one-person shows.

A style she said she enjoys performing in are devise pieces, where a group of actors with one director explores the different styles, movements and artistic abilities that each team member has, focusing on a central theme. It usually is a collaborative, improvisational process, mirroring much of her current and past work.

Last summer, Haggerty spent her break studying abroad in Italy, exploring the 16th-century theatre form called commedia dell’arte. It’s an abstract form of performance which relies heavily on masking and improvisation.

Haggerty said that she found her inspiration to resume writing original pieces and performances from her own experiences abroad, and by watching the work of other comedians like Bo Burnham.

“Educationally, it had a huge affect on me. I used to write, just not as much,” Haggerty said. “I started writing anything that came into my head and I started writing stories and plays and one person monologues.”

After Haggerty graduates this December she has arrangements to move to Paris, France to study at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, a school which places emphasis on body, movement and improvisation.

After another two years of school, she’s considering teaching English in France before returning to the United States to live in New York.

Haggerty will be performing “Obtuse: A One Person Show” at the Shafer Street Playhouse on campus October 9-10. There will be a 7:30 p.m. performance on Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. afternoon show on Saturday as well.

Sophia Belletti, Staff Writer

11802522_10207448112303567_588286187022952754_oSophia is a sophomore journalism major who writes for the Odyssey in addition to the news, sports and spectrum sections of the CT. Sophia also works in sales at Nordstrom and likes hiking and going to concerts. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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