By Kevin Ralph

Special to the Denisonian

The theater department has taken significant steps this year to increase student opportunity to participate in its productions. The most significant of these steps comes in the form of the Fall Festival.

Usually the theater department does two full-scale “main stage” productions each semester, but this year there will only be one main stage production. The other has been replaced by the Fall Festival.

The Festival consists of three productions: two abridged versions of Shakespeare’s work, “Taming of the Shrew” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” and a Denison original “Familiar Strangers” written by Hongyi Tian, a 2013 graduate. These plays will be performed during early October.

Some students are excited to see the Fall Festival. Junior Emily Smith, an English major from Mars, Pa., said, “I think it’s nice there are more opportunities to get school credits, particularly in acting.” And current sophomore Michael Somes from Kirtland, Ohio, said, “For the play I’m in, I really enjoy going to rehearsals; they’re a lot of fun.”

However, many students have voiced frustrations toward some of the facets of the festival’s organization. Junior Will Brackenbury, from Cincinnati, Ohio, is producing the entire festival and directing “Familiar Strangers,” as well as acting in another production. He said, “Logistically, this has been far more challenging than expected.” While most theater productions have around 12 actors, the entire Fall Festival has almost 50.

Compounding this logistical challenge is the limited budget and departmental resources afforded to the Fall Festival productions. Compared to most mainstage theatre productions, whose budgets can be as high as several thousand dollars, the three productions were given a shared budget of 500 dollars. In addition to this, directors were given minimal access to costume shop and scene shop materials.

The Fall Festival addresses the complaint made by many that participation in departmental theater has been extremely competitive in the past, but it may take a few iterations to iron out its various kinks.