While the SUNY Oswego Blackfriars current student production is titled “A Play Where Nothing Happens,” that certainly is not true for the student cast and crew working diligently behind the scenes to put together a great show. 

The cast for the show -- which opened Thursday and has performances through the weekend -- is small at just four members, but the crew still must be large enough to handle the various important jobs necessary to make the production run smoothly.

“It’s definitely a complete hands-on-deck process,” said Natalie Griffin, who plays Maura, one of the main characters. “Every single person involved is really important, like the people who make the sets, and the stage manager of course and costume crew and makeup crew… everyone has a really major role.”

Being a student production, the show’s cast and crew are composed almost entirely of Oswego students, with some faculty oversight. This presents some unique challenges.

“The most challenging part of the process, I would say, is just working on a full-length play while still being a college student,” said director Kayla Elfers, who also originally proposed the show for this semester’s Blackfriars production. “It’s definitely challenging because it is a lot of work that’s put into it, and of course I love it. However, juggling school is definitely difficult.”

“With a production team of your peers, you get kind of close-knit with your director in a way that you can’t with a faculty director because you’re kind of bound by that student-faculty relationship,” said Claire Bosley, who plays Anna, the other lead in “A Play Where Nothing Happens.” “It formulates a relationship that’s a lot different between the cast and the director, or the cast and stage manager and production team.” 

Working behind the scenes

With such an intimate play and so few characters, the stage can itself play a larger role in influencing the audience’s perception. For example, lighting is vital in setting the stage for certain moods.

“Summer has a very specific color set to it, and I think that’s what everyone thinks of,” said Philip Jones, the lighting designer for the production. “So, to try to replicate that, to make sure that it has that kind of summery nostalgic look, but still kind of hazy, I think is very important because it’s peering into something that we all innately have.” 

Another crucial aspect of a performance like this is research, which is where the show’s dramaturgy team comes in. Providing context and notes for cast and crew, the dramaturgy team also produces a central hub website for all of that research.

“I want to give a shout out to the dramaturgy team on this play,” said Griffin. “It’s really great to have people there that are doing that research basically for you, and I think they’re going to create a really cool lobby display and everything.”

As rehearsals finished up and the cast and crew stay ready for their remaining performances, the cast has been thankful for the opportunity to work on a play that is not only among the first in-person plays in some time, but is also a chance to spend some time with friends.

“I don’t know if it was just because of the pandemic and we weren’t able to do live theater for so long, but the energy is so awesome,” said Elfers. “I love coming into rehearsal every day and just being there, collaborating with everyone, and I would say the same goes for everyone else as well.”

“This is my first time having a role like this,” said Jennifer Saint Fleur, assistant director for the show. “I just love how we just collaborate, we talk and we all have an opinion of how we see the play.” 

The show, written by Maizy Broderick Scarpa, continues its run with 7:30 p.m. curtains on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26, as well as 2 p.m. weekend matinees on Feb. 26 and 27. Tickets are available from tickets.oswego.edu, and are free for SUNY Oswego students; $10 for faculty, staff and the general public.

To continue to ensure the health and safety of the campus community, all spectators (ages 5 and up) must show proof of having completed a full COVID-19 vaccination series or recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Visit oswego.edu/oswego-forward for more information.

-- Written by Collin Knapp of the Class of 2023