There is a beautiful irony about a production of a play entitled “Assistance” being entirely student-driven.
For the past month, senior musical theatre major Chris Goodrich and a cast of six actors and actresses have taken on the challenge of mounting an independent performance of Leslye Headland’s 2008 workplace comedy. The student-led show will run at 6 p.m. Sunday at the School of Communication in Studio A.
“It’s a story about the personal assistants of a complete nightmare boss, Daniel Weisinger, and the scramble to keep their dream job,” said Goodrich, the director of the play.
Goodrich, with the encouragement of some of his conservatory classmates, decided to present “Assistance” as a passion project outside of the requirements of any class or department-sponsored show. He was immediately drawn to the script for this project.
“This was the perfect play,” Goodrich said about his decision. “It’s written for young actors, it’s hilarious, and it doesn’t need a ton of tech.”
This isn’t Goodrich’s first stint in the director’s chair. He has previously directed a one-act play written by Shel Silverstein and “a dramatic, spy film version of ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’” as well as taken a directing class at the university.
However, a larger-scale production like “Assistance” has presented its own difficulties. The cast rehearses weekdays, nights and weekends, which can be exhausting for actors trying to balance daily schoolwork with their “night jobs.”
“The most challenging part is the scheduling,” Goodrich said. “I never want to waste anyone’s time, but that’s inevitable in a difficult rehearsal.”
Still, Goodrich strives to create a collaborative atmosphere in rehearsals, particularly because he is working with his peers.
“I encourage everyone to bring their creativity to the process,” he said. “I want rehearsal to be fun, but also intense – truly challenging at times so that I can push people to their greatest potential. I try to shape people’s instincts.”
While the vast majority of the project has been unsupervised by faculty, Goodrich did enlist a few trusted outside eyes to critique the production in its final stages.
“I invited professors to watch rehearsal and give notes,” he said. “… I really respect their input and their understanding of the actors.”
With just days before the Sunday performance, Goodrich is confident that his cast has created a production to be proud of.
“You should see the fantastic work of a bunch of talented actors,” he said. “This play is all their work, and I’m blown away by it every day.”
If You Go:
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: University of Miami School Of Communication, Studio A