Earlier this month, Theatrix, a student production organization through the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, put on a show called “The Revolutionists,” a play run completely by students. 

The performances took place on Nov. 4, 5 and 7 in the Lab Theatre at the Temple Building. “The Revolutionists” is an empowering play about four women during the French Revolution’s reign of terror who feel the need to create change. In doing so, they stand up to extremist thinking and begin writing a play about women’s rights.

For many cast and crew members, being involved in a student-run play proved to be a great way to learn and grow alongside peers with similar interests and life goals. Calli Mah, a senior vocal and theatre performance double major, played Charlotte Corday, and she said her experience crafting the art of acting with students who share the same dedication to the process was inspiring. 

“It’s almost like a group project for a class with much higher stakes and an extreme amount of passion,” Mah said. “We try to keep it similar to a professional show, but because of the workload compared to bodies, you get to do more than what you would do in a ‘normal,’ professional show.” 

Hannah Mason, a senior theatre arts major who played the lead role of Olympe de Gouges, said the big difference between this student production and a professionally-run production is the direct involvement of all cast and crew members with every aspect of the show. 

“I would say the only difference is that this is a more hands-on-deck experience, meaning that the actors are expected to build and paint or pass out flyers to help the production aspect,” Mason said. “But in terms of the actual rehearsal process, there really isn’t a difference.” 

For both Mason and Mah, some of the best parts of this show were building relationships with other team members as well as connecting with their characters and the storyline. 

“The best part of a student-run production is the relationships,” Mason said. “With this show specifically, I grew very close to my director, Francoise Traxler, and this close relationship allowed me to trust my director in ways that you typically cannot.”

Mah said personally connecting with the story helped her and the others involved to better understand and empathize with their characters. 

“Specifically to ‘The Revolutionists,’ the playwright Lauren Gunderson uses people and ideals of the French Revolution as a mirror for our current society to reflect on norms that we have in place and revolutions that we can, should and need to start and support,” Mah said. “We each were able to sympathize with our characters and fight for them, allowing us as actors to better infuse ourselves into our characters and tell a story of even greater value.”

Although there were many advantages to being part of a student-run play, there were also some big challenges, such as working with a smaller budget and having less time to produce the show. Mason said everyone worked hard to finish everything on time. 

“The costumes and scenic elements, such as the guillotine, required a lot of time to be executed, and so there were some long days and hours,” Mason said. “Each scenic piece needed to be painted to match the aesthetic. The costumes were period accurate, meaning the women wore corsets, petticoats, bum rolls etc., and many intricate props were required.”

An important aspect of the production is that the actors and crew members are first and foremost students. Unlike full-time actors, these students have more than one job to focus on, making it challenging.

“A professional actor’s job is to be a professional actor,” Mah said. “A student actor’s job is to be a good student, be a committed actor, be a reliable employee and also support yourself.”