It’s out with the old and in with the new as theatre at St. Thomas University takes on a revamped look in the newly formed Black Box Productions, previously known as Theatre St. Thomas (TST).
The largest difference from the evolution of Theatre St. Thomas to Black Box Productions is the advisory committee of 16 current students and five alumni, along with faculty members as administrative, technical and artistic directors.
“I think a bunch of student members of the community wanted to see the black box space and what used to be TST in a more professional way, not as a student-led club as it was before,” said Reinaldo Cascante, media coordinator at Black Box Productions.
Cascante said the committee created a mission statement, which focuses on fostering inclusivity and diversity, and allows students interested in theatre to grow and become leaders.
He encourages anyone who is interested to participate either on or offstage.
“If you feel compelled to even try to be on and off stage, I think you should probably pursue that because it’ll change your life in a good way,” said Cascante.
On Sept 16 and 17, the company hosted auditions, with more than 50 students signing up to show off their talents.
Lisa Anne Ross, the company’s artistic director and professor in STU’s English department, said the auditions were a chance to see everyone and meet them one on one.
She said the production team couldn’t believe the talent they saw, adding that many students are in their first year at STU — an exciting moment for the committee. Ross believes Black Box Productions is a good way for students to find a community at STU.
“The curiosity, the kindness, the interest, it was really special,” she said.
In an effort to “get a greater diversity of student interest in the box,” Ross said Black Box Productions will partner with Solo Chicken Productions, the Fredericton Playhouse, drag queen Pearl Harbour and STU alumni Wei Qing Tan to engage in workshops and performances.
Black Box Productions plans to host four productions and events this year, including the Plain Site Theatre Festival, created by STU alumni Alex Rioux in 2019 to highlight the works of emerging 2SLGBTQIA+ artists.
This festival features scripts written by current students at STU, including fourth-year student Noah Deas, who wrote the script and music for what he calls “a workshop of a musical” as his honours thesis.
Deas said having more people on the advisory committee has resulted in more initiatives and projects, such as a Black Box writing group. He hopes that this will be his best year as a member of the STU theatre community.
“To be in a space where I can propose an idea and it’s heard and I can see it take place is really cool,” said Deas.