Writing on the audience’s forehead, crawling on the floor of Beckman 404 and creating raunchy spoofs on classic children’s movies may not seem like artistic choices. But for senior digital art major Mike Stimpson, these bold moves are more for the performers than the audience.
He’s with The Players’ Society.
“Our focus is never in the ‘performance value’ or the need to impress an audience; we just do stuff that we enjoy working on, and the quality of the show is cultivated by the love that goes into it,” he said.
The Players’ Society is described to the Chapman student body on Orgsync as “a forum for all students to share ideas, make new friends, and help out with one another’s projects,” and is open to students of all majors and interests.
Setting TPS across from the rest, their productions are entirely student driven, and often original to the club.
“There’s no idea that’s too outlandish for TPS,” said Stimpson.
Junior television writing and production major Skye Braband agrees.
“I wrote a play this year. ‘Will’s Wonk:’ A candy factory, that for some reason, the club let me put on. Bit surprised that got approved, as it was truly demented,” he said.
“Will’s Wonk” is a story based loosely on the 1971 classic “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,” but Charlie’s Grandpa Joe is intentionally killing other kids so that Charlie can win the factory. As well as this, the factory itself comes to life and gains a taste for human flesh.
“I mean, it’s really, I don’t know how this thing got off the ground,” said Braband.
There were several other completely original productions produced in the 2016-2017 school year: Who Done It? A Farce Inspired by Clue in December, Will’s Wonk and Mailmen in February, as well as Pink Floyd’s The Wall performed in April 2017.
The club also produces an annual Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow performance every Halloween weekend.
The Wall was a production attracted the most amount of non-TPS people to the show, both in the cast and the audience, according to senior film production major Alan Macchiarolo, who directed the production.
The story was created by Pink Floyd and adapted for the stage by Macchiarolo. He describes The Wall as as a story about a man who builds a metaphorical wall inside his head to shield him from the outside world; including themes of anti-semitism, homophobia and racism.
“TPS has so much talent, and The Wall, I think, was a giant culmination of that,” said Macchiarolo. “I knew we had all these people who were great singers, and all these people who could play music, and we had the potential to really put on a big show.”
To Macchiarolo, this production was more than just acting and singing.
“The Wall is something so near and dear to my heart. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do since I was thirteen or fourteen, when I first heard the album. One of my biggest regrets of high school was not suggesting that we do the show,” he said.
The show had a live band, nearly thirty five songs to sing and harmonize to, as well as complex lighting and technical elements. They were originally booked in Memorial Hall, but it fell through due to overbooking, so the show was produced in Irvine Lecture Hall, Macchiarolo said.
There are several other performance-based clubs on campus: Chapman On Broadway, CAST, as well as countless dance and singing groups. But Stimpson believes the utter originality of The Players’ Society gives this club its own eccentric community.
“Other theatre groups on campus have definite focuses; the only thing that matters is how good of an idea (a production) is and how many people want to do it,” he said.
Although self-proclaimed as outlandish, TPS served as a legitimate artistic outlet to Stimpson throughout his time in the club.
“I’ve performed, arranged music, built sets, all that good stuff,” he said. “I’m just a very artsy person and theatre brings a lot of my interests together. So I personally relish the opportunity to try new things or work on skills I ordinarily don’t have time for.”
The Players’ Society’s production history ranges from stage adaptations/parodies of movies, original student-written plays and musicals, and an occasional theatrical show that suits the combined skills as a club (Almost, Maine, Rhinoceros, Cannibal: The Musical, etc.), Gossen said.
“I know our plays are weird, but they’re fun and we like doing them in our own way,” Braband said. “Even if the audience leaves being like, ‘what was that?’ each cast member still had the time of their lives putting on whatever show they put on.”