FIU Theatre showcases senior projects

The students graduating with their bachelor’s of fine arts in performance showcased their senior projects from Thursday, March 21, to Saturday, March 23.

Gabriella Pinos/Assistant Entertainment Director

The seniors at the FIU Department of Theatre are taking a bow from their time at the University – right after one last show.

Seniors graduating with their bachelor’s of fine arts in performance performed their senior project during their final semester, which consisted of a 15-minute, one-person show in Deuxieme Maison 150 from Thursday, March 21 to Saturday, March 23.

Carlos Jara, who portrayed novelist Paulo Coelho in his play “Paulo,” said he wanted to present the side of Coelho included in his writing.

“Something that people don’t know when people read the material is that he’s a really funny man, he’s a really charming guy and that’s something that I always wanted to bring to the play,” said Jara.

Jara also said he related to Coelho, specifically with his thoughts on identity and speaking to others.

“Whenever I read his books or hear his interviews, what I get from him is kind of this question of, ‘who am I?’ and that’s something that I want to answer for myself,” said Jara.

The process for creating the one-person play begins in the fall semester, where students submit a proposal detailing the person and idea they want to portray onstage. In the spring, the students are paired up with an advisor, and the pair discuss ideas for the play and tighten drafts for the script. Once the student writes, directs and performs their project, they submit a book with all the work put into the play to their advisor, which is then graded.

For seniors like Megan Zorrilla, writing the script was the hardest part of the process. “I’m not a writer, I’m an actor,” said Zorrilla. “But we definitely learned skills through the classes that were taught in the theatre department, and I was able to implement a lot of those skills that learned here into my writing, and I learned that the less you write and the more action you have, the better…”

In her play “Fitting Room,” Zorrilla tapped into the struggles her subject, singer Karen Carpenter, endured throughout her life, which included meeting the expectations of her fans and friends.

Creating the play allowed Zorrilla to wear multiple hats, which prepared her for a career after college.

“If you’re a producer or if you’re a director, you’re giving work to other people. So if you can handle all those positions, you will never be out of work,” said Zorrilla. “And I think that’s a really great experience that I’ve had with this project that I’ve learned how to be more than just an actor.”

From left to right: seniors JC Gutierrez, Carlos Jara, Sabrina Mendoza and Natalia Quintero-Riestra after performing their senior projects on Thursday, March 21. Photo by Gabriella Pinos.

JC Gutierrez, another performance major graduating this semester, came up with the idea for his play, which centers around poet Charles Bukowski, during his freshman year.

“I got here and I started writing, and I knew that I was going to do this project on [Bukowski]… but the actual process, from finishing up the script to right now, it’s probably been anywhere around… six months to one year to get this product sharp,” said Gutierrez.

In his project, called “Play of a Dirty Bastard,” Gutierrez characterizes Bukowski as a dirty and aggressive writer devoted to his work. When Bukowski’s lover destroys his poems, he is left to recreate his work.

The inspiration for the performance came from Bukowski’s poem “To The Whore Who Took My Poems” and Gutierrez’s own love for poetry.

“When I got into this school, I was very much into poetry – I still am – and this is very much my favorite author and poet,” said Gutierrez.

While students have control over their projects, advisors also play a small role in the creation process.

Ivan Lopez, instructor at the Department of Theatre and one of the advisors for the senior projects class, said guiding students in the process brings the students and faculty in the department together.

“We have 125 majors and 13 faculty members, and so there’s a very close mentor to student relationship that develops,” said Lopez.

For Gutierrez, the guidance he received from his advisor allowed him to perfect his piece.

“I think I really like my piece a lot more now after [my advisor] gave me those notes than before I gave it to him,” said Gutierrez.

For students like Gutierrez, working on the project was a culmination of many years of hard work. However, he and Jara said the time and effort put into the final product is worth it.

“It’s the first thing I made that is all me,” said Gutierrez. “I directed it, wrote it, performed, designed it. So I feel a lot of pride, it’s like my baby.”

As for Lopez, who graduated from FIU with a BFA in performance as well, he hopes the seniors will find “really strong confidence in their own creative voice” just as he learned to do.

“…sometimes it takes a lot of courage to speak that voice, but their voice matters,” said Lopez.

For more information on the FIU Department of Theatre, visit @fiutheatre on Instagram.

Featured photo courtesy of @fiutheatre on Instagram.

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