Opening night jitters, all year long

U students play with the perils of a newbie theater student in their premiere production

Tatum Fjerstad

A couple of years back, Lisa Bol and Matt Spring, then-sophomore theater students, sat in Middlebrook Hall’s dining hall and talked about what it was like to be fresh meat in the University’s theatre department.

They laughed, they got frustrated and they wondered. Then Bol said to Spring, “Write all this down. We’ll put this on for our senior project.”

Now they’re doing just that. Bol produces and Spring wrote and directs “Artistic Types,” a production loosely (and at times not so loosely) based on their experiences as fledgling theater majors.

The show pokes fun at theater kids, techies, and other students while leading the audience through intense auditions, proving your talent, giving in to intimidation and, occasionally, triumph. A first-year theater student experiences it all.

While the play makes caricatures of different kinds of people in the theatre department, Spring was careful to give his work substance by taking different elements from different genres, he said.

“There’s rivalry, love, tap dancing and a sword fight. What more could you ask for?” Bol said.

Bol and Spring cast mostly first-year students in their show because it’s about, well, being a first-year student.

“We remembered what it was like to be a first-year student and not get cast in any shows,” Bol said. “You’re still talented when you’re a freshman.”

Lindy Voeltner, first-year theater and art major plays Liz, the character modeled after Bol.

“This is almost exactly like what I’m going through (as a first-year theater student),” Voeltner said. “There is even a part in the play where my character’s heat goes out, and right now I have no heat in my dorm.”

Though the idea of sharing these anecdotes was strong and Spring and Bol ambitious, getting the show up and running was as difficult as walking into that first audition.

They applied to Crisis Point Theatre and the Xperimental Theatre. But because both theaters are more interested in works in progress instead of completed scripts, they were turned down.

Spring asked Bol, “How come no one wants to work with us? We’re good people.” So they ran with that, created Good People Productions and rented Patrick’s Cabaret for a weekend. They used homemade T-shirts, word of mouth and hand-drawn posters to advertise their production.

This year, Bol and Spring, though they are not dating, became roommates.

“It’s this show, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Bol said. “Sometimes it’s brilliant because you’ve got a partner to talk to, but other times one of us just doesn’t want to talk about it.”

Spring agreed.

“We can’t get away from the show,” Spring said. “I feel like I’m the reason she can’t get away. But she just tells me to breathe and everything will be OK.”