Downstage Theater: Students Who Produce and Perform

You’ve been invited on Facebook, you’ve seen the posters, they basically have more events, shows, and readings than there are students on this campus- who are they? They are Downstage; a student Theatre Company integrated into the Sarah Lawrence curriculum. According to producer Andy Clarke, Downstage was once completely student run, but a few years ago it gained the backing of the department and is now taught by faculty member Kevin Confoy. This is no easy feat, especially considering the obscene amount of student production companies that now flood our ever-disappearing rehearsal spaces. But Downstage is different, because not only is it revolutionary, it’s evolutionary.


Rehearsal for Downstage Company’s production of Macbeth

Some of us upper classmen remember a time when our dorm doors and teahaus windows were plastered with promotions from The Body Electric, last year’s Downstage team. Each year, the mission, the producers, and the shows are different. This means, what happens in Downstage is truly unique to that company because even though the class continues, the through-line does not. In the 2010-11 term, Downstage’s focus was on the human body, choosing plays and constructing a season based around that idea. This year however, Downstage has given Sarah Lawrence College “a complete history of theatre in nine months,” but this year’s season isn’t merely a theatre history lesson; the company has showcased many playwrights on this very campus through staged readings and workshops- so they’re making history, too.

Lindsay Goldstein, Andy Clarke, Jesse Heffler, and Yoshi Kuroi have been hustling all year, putting on production after production. I should know- I’m in two classes with Andy, and there’s always at least two announcements he makes that are Downstage related in both of them. I’m blown away by the amount of work that these people put into this company, not that anyone would expect it to be easy- the best part is though, is that the shows are good. Really good.

They’ve done Macbeth (yeah that’s right, I wrote it out- I’m not chicken), It’s a Wonderful Life (the radio show), a 24 hour play festival, and a collaboration with MidCab and the Sounstage that went up this past weekend called Outside the Box. Downstage has taken theatre to new mediums, new levels, and new arenas of entertainment. It’s not over yet though! This Friday The Glass Menagerie by none other than Tennessee motha-f*cking Williams goes up in the Downstage theatre (is it obvious he’s my favorite playwright?). Corbin Went is directing, the set is beautiful, the actors are fabulous, and there are basically a million props (or at least that’s what it feels like backstage as). The show runs Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm. You can get your tickets here:

Downstage is on their game. They’re students working to produce what students want to see. Mad props.

Photos by: Robyn Soetikno

Ellen Winter hails from Washington, D.C. where she indulged in frequenting various clubs, house shows, theaters, field concerts, and spy museums. She is super stoked to be a part of the SLCspeaks team and looks forward to exploring the arts and music in New York with a new lens. Through years of in-depth research, she has concluded that black coffee, an everything bagel with cream-cheese and a side of bacon is the most delicious breakfast ever to be invented- there is no counter argument.

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