Artist research in the Big Apple
By Marisa Larson
Many actors in The Little Apple® dream of making it to the Big Apple someday. Several K-Staters made that dream come true by putting on their own off-Broadway production. “It was like a dream,” said Joey Boos, a theatre major from Salina, Kan. “Being able to live in New York City for a month, put on a show, and be immersed in the city and the theatre culture there was an experience that I will remember forever.”
This life-changing experience for K-State students began when Jennifer Vellenga, assistant professor and head of acting and directing in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, was invited to direct the play “Fashionistas: A Narcissistic Love Story” in a NYC theater festival. Vellenga was able to take K-State students, faculty and staff with her to help put on the play thanks to funding by the College of Arts & Sciences’ Faculty Enhancement Program and private gifts.
“We basically created a company from scratch, took that company to New York, and put it up in New York,” she said. “They built the set here and drove it to New York. It is amazing that we pulled it off. It was a lot of work.”
The K-State crew consisted of seven students, four faculty, two staff and one K-State alumna. A few professional actors were hired to round out the cast. The students were involved in every aspect of the production, from lighting and sets to costume design and production to promoting the play.
“I think I learned a lot through hands-on learning and experience,” Boos said. “I had so many outlets and opportunities to learn during the course of that one month. Also, working and talking with equity actors and crew members was very helpful! They were always willing to talk, answer questions, and give us all advice for the future.”
“This is our artistic research; it’s the equivalent of research in any other area,” Vellenga said. “And by going and taking our work out, it does elevate our national profile. And I think that’s what K-State is looking for with 2025.”