With one production under its belt, Florida A&M University’s Essential Theatre has two shows left in its season, along with a special event presentation.
“Crumbs from the Table of Joy” debuted in September and theater officials said it proved to be a success. They also said they feel the next two shows, “Blue” and “ICE” should be good as well.
When it comes to the Essential Theatre, many students have enjoyed the shows.
Jelani Miller, 19, a sophomore theatre performance student from Atlanta, Ga., said he feels great and is very happy that people appreciate the art of theater.
Miller has helped with the theater in many ways, but mostly with theater tech working different jobs at various plays. Miller said he was assistant stage manager for the play “Dearly Departed” and props manager for “Crumbs from the Table of Joy.”
“I take pride in my work,” Miller said. “Whatever I do depends on the safety of the show in order to make it great.”
Theatre officials said audience turnout for FAMU’s theatrical productions is generally high and student attendance is usually greater on opening night and Thursday night showings.
They also said there is a very respectable turnout on the weekends from the surrounding community.
Miller said that having an audience is key.
“Seeing a good audience turnout is exciting because I know we did [a] good job of promoting,” he said.
A senior theater performance student with a minor in education, Bryan Mitchell has had four years to perfect his art within the theater. Besides three productions outside of FAMU’s campus, Mitchell has performed in a total of five productions to date. When he is performing onstage, Mitchell said he tries to think the audience is not there.
“When it comes to the reactions from the audience, I like to see people who are into the play and giving the appropriate respond, but I hate sleepers,” said Mitchell, 22, a Miami native.
Mitchell said he experiences a slight case of nervousness when it is close to show time.
However once onstage, he said everything seems to flow, and that it is his time to vent and express himself the way he feels he should.
Both Miller and Mitchell are a part of the FAMU Connection, an entertainment recruitment group that goes into the community spreading positive information through acting and improving FAMU’s name.
Miller has been a member for two years and Mitchell has been one for four years.
As the assistant dean of the College of Arts and Science, Valencia Matthews said she feels that FAMU has an educational theater that serves as a lab for students to practice their art.
“We help them see progress from where they were to their peak performance,” Matthews said.
On opening night, Matthews explained that it is very exciting after the intense weeks of rehearsals. She said usually when it’s show time, everyone is nervous.
“We have to be ready to give our work to the audience and have them respond to our work in a positive manner,” she said. “[However,] being too loud can kill the moments for other members of the audience. A reaction is always good when appropriate.”