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‘The Bald Soprano’ brings absurd theatre to the Vonnie Borden

By Annie Goodman
On May 12, 2017

Associate Professor of Acting and Directing James Winter’s advanced acting class performed “The Bald Soprano” for their final. 
Annie Goodman/The Lion’s Roar

Associate Professor of Acting and Directing James Winter tasked his advanced acting class with “Theatre of the Absurd” through “The Bald Soprano.”

The performance was held last Wednesday, May 3 after the 2017 Directing Showcase as the second half of An Evening of Theatre.

“It went over a lot better than I thought it would honestly,” said Winter. “It’s such a weird play. I had no idea how the audience would react to it.”

Audience members were pleasantly surprised by the performance.

“I thought it was very great, very different,” said Harlan Thorpe, a freshman social work major. “It was not what I was expecting. It was very absurd. I like the humor. You get the humor kind of easily as long as you listen to it. My favorite part was the end. That was the best when they were just yelling gibberish at each other.”

Winter also struggled with the absurdity of this play from a director’s viewpoint.

“As a director, you’re always trying to get the actors to connect the dots and make them go through lines, and there is none in this play,” said Winter. “It took me like several weeks to be like, ‘Stop worrying about this and asking the actors questions that I would ask them if we were doing a normal play.’”

The class enjoyed this selection.

“They dived right in, and they liked the show from the minute I introduced it to them,” said Winter. “They were fearless. I didn’t have the right gender breakdown, and Michaela was like, ‘I’ll do it. I’ll just be a guy.’ They all had that kind of fun attitude.”

The actors enjoyed the audience’s reactions to their antics.

“This play was bonkers from start to finish,” said Colin Ross, a senior general studies major with a concentration in theatre. “It was the craziest, absurdest nonsense you will ever see. It was a blast because it’s fun watching the reaction from the audience and seeing how long they sit and hang out after while the clock’s chiming for half an hour.”

Audience members were amused by the ending as well.

“I thought ‘The Bald Soprano’ was really amazing,” said Bruce Javery II, a junior communication major. “I’m still reeling from the fakeout ending.”

Winter aims to teach his students confidence and to hone their talents.

“It’s hard since we’re not a major,” said Winter. “If I was teaching all theatre students, obviously, my goal would be to get them into good grad schools or to get professional work when they leave. That still is a goal, and I do that, but most of my classes are mixed between general studies theatre majors and then majors from all walks of life. So, I think my other goal for everybody would just be to get them to be more confident, believe in how talented and smart they are because time after time, student after student in almost all of them, there’s all this untapped potential. I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s there. You just got to look for it.”

Winter says he has two inspirations as a teacher.

“More than anything, my students inspire me to be a better teacher and to challenge them and to help them,” said Winter. “Then, good teachers whether it’s good teachers I had in the past or great colleagues. Those two things inspire me: good teachers and my students.”

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