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The Ryerson Theatre School is hard at work on its annual year-end production, New Voices, which will run from March 25 to April 9.
The fourth-year theatre students – from the performance, dance and production streams – have been working on their pieces since the beginning of the school year.
While performance and dance students have been focusing on their plays or choreography, production students have been toying away on the series’ set design.
Producer Sheldon Rosen said the annual task is not easy, and he is impressed with the time and effort the students have put into it.
“This is a big focus for them to create their own original material, cast it, rehearse it,” he said. “It’s a lot of work.”
This year will be the largest New Voices show yet, with 22 pieces – ranging from 10 to 90 minutes – over 10 nights. Usually, each show features at least two plays and two dance performances.
Previous years have only ran five to six nights long. With more shows added in this year, there are new challenges and a regimented schedule, which encourages students to hone their skills.
“It’s outrageous what they’re responsible for,” said Rosen. “They work night and day to be able to do this, and do it well. There have been times that I think, ‘I wouldn’t have done that personally,’ but that’s a part of the learning process.”
Rosen has been producing the show since its inception 10 years ago. Each year, there is an audition process that narrows down the selected pieces. Auditions range from five to 40 minutes and once selected, the students further develop their works.
Whether a play or a dance, students can also get classmates from other years or schools to participate. Each student’s work is entirely his or her own, and each will have full control of the decision-making.
“My philosophy is that all of the pieces belong to the students,” Rosen said. “It’s their work not mine, it’s entirely their responsibility for every aspect of the piece.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 19, 2014.