FIU Theatre reflects on past productions, shares 2023-2024 season for 50th anniversary

Luzcarina Nuñez as Trouble playing an air guitar solo in Airness | Luzcarina Nuñez

Kaysea Suzana | Assistant Entertainment Director

From air guitar solos to Agatha Christie mysteries, FIU Theatre’s 50th anniversary reflects on what has been and what’s to come.

FIU Theatre’s 50th anniversary brings four productions in the 2023 Fall term and the 2024 Spring term, with some of the production crew being previously involved in the works of the 2022-2023 year.

FIU Theatre’s 2022-2023 run featured many productions such as Green Bird, Airness, Necessary Targets and others. 

Luis Otamendi, a senior Performance Arts major, played the character Renzo in Hillary DePiano’s rendition of the Nov. 2022 play Green Bird.

“Playing Renzo… was strange for me. My prior experiences with theatre had been very grounded in reality; characters that felt like real people. Here, I played a pompous, bratty kid, and I had to crank up the intensity of every line,” Otamendi said.

The dramatic style which Otamendi refers to is known as commedia dell’arte, an improvisational and caricature-like way of acting that originated in 15th-century Italy

Performance arts senior Paola Esterás also performed in Green Bird. Esterás commented on the challenges of playing the character Franceschina, or Franny.

“It was intimidating to act at first, since it had been three years since I’d been on stage. My role was physically demanding, and I had ended up losing ten pounds. I walked a lot and wore around seven layers of clothing plus a fat suit,” said Esterás. 

(Check out Esterás getting ready to play Franny below! Pause the video to cycle between clips.)

Despite the challenges, Esterás had mentioned finding joy in the rigorous work.

“I would do it all over again, and I felt really accomplished in the end. I ended up getting a nomination for a theatre scholarship and all my professors believed in me. The costume design was phenomenal and senior students even helped guide us for character consistency,” Esterás said.

Jacovia Farrington, a senior also pursuing a BFA in Performance Arts, had previously been involved in an FIU play called Passage by Christopher Chen. 

Farrington spoke to PantherNOW about the dissonance she felt between herself and her character, simply known as D.

“As ‘D’ it was intense. People see me and tend to refer to me as sweet and lovely to others. However, this role allowed me to be volatile and bitter. It motivated me to try to understand the negativity. Was it because she was insecure? Was it because she’s a woman and fears being vulnerable?” Farrington explained.

Luzcarina Nuñez, a senior also pursuing an BFA in Performance Arts, played the Announcer, Sprite Executive and Interlude in the Feb. 2023 play Airness

“It was fun. It was insane. It was my first time being in a theatre show since highschool. I really appreciated the involvement with the crew and the bonding with the cast and the directors,” said Nuñez. 

“All the standing still, the rehearsal and the practice had made me have a deeper appreciation for theatre.”

Playbills for FIU Theatre’s 2023-2024 year | FIU CARTA

FIU Theatre plans on unveiling The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie and Pericles by William Shakespeare as the two main productions for the Fall 2023 term.

Esterás, Nuñez, Otamendi, and Farrington will be returning in these plays, with Otamendi being casted in The Mousetrap as Gilles Ralston.

Esterás will be in Pericles as A Bawd, A Sailor and Cerimon, while Farrington will co-star as Heticanus. Nuñez joins them as Marina.

“I’m excited about Marina. She’s mischievous and intelligent and knows what she wants. Truthfully, I want to test myself and see what I’m made from,” Nuñez explained.

Anthony Galaska, associate professor and head of design and production, shared insight about reinvigorating plays for new audiences. 

“We’ve done Pericles before, but when considering whether we wanted to revisit prior productions, we realized that our work before doesn’t reflect who we are as FIU theatre in the now,” said Galaska.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a light musical adapted from the 1988 movie of the same name, will kick off the Spring 2024 season.

Following it will be Clybourne Park, a story about Chicago’s urban development, with two acts taking place fifty years apart.

With an ever growing student body and a changing demographic, Galaska embraces the next stage of FIU Theatre.

“FIU Theatre has always been about the students, and our students and staff represent how we go about our productions,” said Galaska.

“We want to bring about new change that reflects our expression and skills.”

(Check out Galaska’s thoughts on FIU Theatre’s 50th anniversary below!)

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