“Prose and Cons” offers unique viewing experience to students

by Brook Gardner-Durbin

MSU students have a unique opportunity this weekend: For the first time in a long time, a radio play will be performed live on campus, free to all students and community members.

“It is about a couple of con artists attempting to swindle a young widow,” explained writer Ryan Cassavaugh. “It should have some human and sentimental bits, but it is a comedy first.”

The play, titled “Prose and Cons,” is offered by the College of Arts and Architecture as a part of the Year of Engaged Leadership, but other departments are also contributing — four students studying music technology are helping with the sound and recording.

Cassavaugh, in addition to writing the play, is performing many small parts. Stephanie Campbell, (also the director) and Cara Wilder — MSU professors who teach acting to majors and nonmajors, respectively — and Gabrielle Heron, a former student, round out the cast.

One important aspect of the performance is how the cast all know each other better than many casts. Cassavaugh usually works with the Verge Theatre with his company Don’t Close Your Eyes, but was brought to MSU’s Black Box for this project by Campbell.The two met years ago, when Cassavaugh took a class from Campbell at the Emerson Cultural Center. She performed in one of his recent radio plays at the Verge, where she had the idea to bring one of his plays to MSU. Wilder and Campbell also knew each other outside of MSU, as they have performed together in Broad Comedy in the past, and Heron used to be a Teachers Assistant for Stephanie.

[pullquote align=”right”]“Doing radio is different, fun, nostalgic.”  – Stephanie Campbell, Director[/pullquote]

A radio play is an experience few people at MSU have seen or heard before. “Doing radio is different, fun, nostalgic,” said Campbell. It brings back a time when the audience “had to have an imagination to see the sights.” One of the biggest attractions of a radio play over a traditional play is it offers a peek behind the scenes: The audience will be able to see how the sound effects are created as the action progresses. Many of the tools used to “cheat” sound on radio long ago are still utilized for “Prose and Cons” because they are considered a highlight of the performance.

Some of the tricks include a “wind machine” (made by holding cloth over a spinning block of wood) and a gadget used to mimic a creaking door made by wrapping a piece of string around a wooden cylinder.

“Prose and Cons” will be recorded two of the three nights it runs, hopefully to be broadcast at a later date, both locally and on other radio stations across the United States.

Tickets for “Prose and Cons” are free to the public, but limited, so get to the Black Box Theatre (at the corner of 11th and Grant) early to get a seat. Performances are October 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.