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College Avenue Players bring new school play to life with 'Teen Spirit'

The College Avenue Players (CAP) rehearse for its hightly-anticipated first original full-length production, "Teen Spirit." – Photo by Brian Choe

This weekend, the College Avenue Players (CAP) are back, this time with the comedic play, "Teen Spirit." What sets this play apart from the troupe's other performances is that this is a full-length, student-written play — the first in the group's history.

While CAP holds workshops and sketch shows throughout the year, its mainstage productions have always been licensed from other companies. This new production gave students the opportunity to craft something personal and relatable. 

The show follows four college teens in 1995 on a journey to get drinks from a local store, but the trip is complicated by secrets and emotional baggage.

The four teens the play revolves around include actress Aliena (School and Arts and Sciences junior Aniya Naughton), nerdy Bichael (School of Arts and Sciences senior Myron Molina), hockey fan Celine (School of Arts and Sciences first-year Danylah Jones) and jock Derik (School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Mason Springer-Lipton).

While she is one of the main cast members, Naughton also serves as the group's president. She outlined critical goals for the team as they charted unfamiliar territory: make people laugh and create a fun, safe space for people to try new things. 

"Several of the writers had never written anything and a few members of the production staff … had never worked backstage," she said. "This is one part in creating a space for future CAP members to artistically express themselves."

CAP's production of "Teen Spirit" is directed by Patrick-Flynn Osborne, who is also trying something new — this is his first time directing a play. While Osborne faced some obstacles, particularly in perfecting the show's blocking and continuity, the crew and actors were more than willing to help.

Eventually, Osborne and the rest of CAP had a polished final production they were confident of, something he cites as being a result of "rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal."

The actors had the difficult task of bringing these new characters to life, but they all took the task to heart.

"The characters are extravagant archetypes that you usually don't see together," said Naughton. "(This) creates hilarious dynamics that I hope will translate to the audience. I anticipate that the ensemble cast will definitely steal the show."

While it was crucial that the actors learned their marks and memorized their lines, the behind-the-scenes figures also had important responsibilities.

The stage manager of "Teen Spirit" and CAP's house manager Priscilla Senger, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, and the artistic director, Matt Smyntek, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, made sure everything ran smoothly behind the scenes. 

"All of us are hoping to see our collective vision come together on stage," said Smyntek. "Patrick was very supportive of this, and wanted to make sure that he was able to deliver on this regard … (he) has done an incredible job bringing this show to life, and I hope all the writers will be proud of what he's done. I know I am."

One of Osborne's responsibilities as director was managing the personalities of the relatively large crew, a challenge he gladly welcomed. With a team of 11 writers, he wanted to ensure that everyone's voice was heard.

"Everyone has something to say and honestly, I am glad to hear that," said Osborne. "Each day I do that, where I take people’s suggestions and I filter out what I think works. I edit what they suggested and maybe align it more to my vision of the show … I feel, especially during tech week, they've seriously helped shape even the small, little details of the show."

As the team enters their final rehearsals, they begin to reflect on some of the bonds they've made throughout this process.

"My experience with CAP feels almost like, it's kind of cheesy to say, but it feels almost like a family," said Osborne. "We all have the shared experience of coming to Scott Hall every night. We all set up the curtains together, put up the flats and we ran the show."

The play, set to debut Friday and run through Sunday, will be playing at Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus.

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