The week of Oct. 10-15, former Rockette and playwright Joanna Rush, along with Tony-nominated director Lynne Taylor-Corbett, brought their productions of “Kick (It’s not how high, it’s how strong)” and “Accidental Mummies” to the Cirigliano Studio Theater at Lorain County Community College.
The entire residency was in conjunction with both the Arts and Humanities division and the Stocker Arts Center. It allowed for student involvement in the form of workshops. “Accidental Mummies” was one such workshop in which several of LCCC’s own theater students were given the opportunity to perform along side Rush herself.
“Working with Joanna and Lynne was absolutely amazing,” said Bekka Reaser, a communications major and one of the actresses who performed in “Accidental Mummies”.
“They’ve done things in their lifetime that I would love to do someday such as being a Rockette and working on major choreography projects. It gave me the opportunity to see that it is possible to do what you want and what you love,” Reaser said.
The students spent a week rehearsing with Rush and Taylor-Corbett, granting them a first-hand look into how a play is developed in the early stages.
“Over the course of the week, I definitely enjoyed getting to know Joanna and Lynne. They made rehearsals fun but still productive,” said Lizzie Tomcho, a fine arts major and another actress that performed in “Accidental Mummies”. “I definitely learned a lot while working on ‘Accidental Mummies’. It was very interesting to see how a play is first created in the beginning stages and I’m very thankful to have been part of this experience.”
LCCC students were not the only students who were given the opportunity to work with Rush and Taylor-Corbett. In an acting workshop the afternoon of Oct. 12, high school theater students were invited to work with both women. The students performed partner exercises that taught them to rely on one another. They worked on movement and characterization as well, leading to a more in-depth approach to their acting craft.
“It just clicks. When I go there [to the theater], it’s like going home. It’s a really good group of people and it’s fun to do. It’s an indescribable feeling that I have for it. It’s incredible, it’s a whole other world of stuff. There’s the world, and there’s theater. In theater you can do anything, be anything, and you’re still important,” said Johnny Clayton, a high school student from Amherst who participated in the workshop.
On Friday, Oct. 14, Rush performed her one-woman show “Kick (It’s not how high, it’s how strong)”. Despite the heavy subject of rape that was featured within the show, Rush kept the dialogue and her actions light and even humorous for a majority of performance.
“Kick (It’s not how high, it’s how strong)” is about more than just the social stigma of rape, it is intended to make people feel uplifted after attending a performance.
“The lesson I learned from seeing ‘Kick’ was definitely strength. That no matter what kind of past you have or the unfortunate events you have experienced, you just have to keep going, because eventually, life will get better,” Tomcho said.
Life is unpredictable and bad things happen to even the best of people. In the wake of a bad event, some people may choose to internalize it, while others choose to cope through humor. Rush had hopes that her production would leave the audience with rewarding and heartwarming thoughts of encouragement when it comes to dealing with the tough aspects of life.
“The impact we hope to have is a feeling of empowerment, that they are in control of their life no matter what gets thrown their way.” said Rush.