This week, Theatre UCF has a unique summer “seminar,” where attendees don’t have to take notes, write papers, or even attend class. All they need to do is sit back and enjoy a play. That “seminar,” of course, is Theresa Rebeck’s 2011 play, Seminar.
In this contemporary comedy four aspiring writers hire an international literary figure for private writing instruction. Lessons are learned, but they aren’t necessarily the lessons they were anticipating. The play focuses on relationships between a group of young adults and contains adult themes and language.
Sebastian Gonzalez is a junior in the BFA Acting program and this is his third production with Theatre UCF. In stark contrast to his first at UCF—Reeling, a silent play—Gonzalez says that Seminar is focused on language. At their first rehearsal, director Julia Listengarten emphasized the importance of the language by pointing out that though Rebeck is a 21st century playwright, her specialization is in Victorian literature. The play, she stressed, could not be performed as broad comedy, but instead must be focused on the language, much like a Victorian melodrama.
“Reeling was entirely physical,” says Gonzalez. “That’s where the comedy comes from. In Seminar, we have to focus on the language. However, there’s a rhythm to both, one is external physical movement and the other is internal, it is in the words.”
Most actors on the Theatre UCF stages are usually students, but in the summers, the School of Performing Arts will occasionally have faculty members fill roles so that students can work side-by-side with professional actors. This summer three roles have been filled by members of the Theatre faculty, Mark Brotherton and Kate Ingram in last month’s The Lion in Winter and Earl D. Weaver, in Seminar.
Gonzalez is grateful for the opportunity to work with his mentors.
“Acting with [Weaver] is like being in a masterclass. He arrived at the first rehearsal completely memorized and was open to every idea that [Director Julia Listengarten] had,” Gonzalez says. “And the way that (Listengarten) directs is amazing to witness. She is a non-linear thinker and director. One day she had us each select an animal and run the scenes as if we were that animal. It brought new energy to scenes we had been rehearsing for weeks,” says Gonzalez.
This is Rebeck’s second play presented at UCF. Spike Heels was presented by Theatre UCF in 2012.
Seminar runs this week through Sunday, July 9, and returns to the UCF Main Stage August 24-27. Tickets are available at theatre.ucf.edu, on the phone at 407-823-1500, or in person from noon-5 p.m. at the School of Performing Arts box office. UCF faculty and staff are eligible for free tickets to this week’s performance.