Senior Capstone show serves as final exam, final bow

Photo courtesy of Katie Doyle
Photo courtesy of Katie Doyle

It’s midterm season, and while some Marquette students are busy hitting the books, Katie Doyle and Brittany Green will be hitting the stage tonight to perform their Senior Capstone in Theatre Arts projects.

Both seniors in the College of Communication, Doyle and Green have been hard at work on their projects since the beginning of the semester. They will present the finished products in “Aftermath: An Evening of Senior Capstones” both tonight and tomorrow in the Helfaer Theatre’s Studio 013.

With the help of about 30 students and faculty members, Doyle and Green will present Eugene O’Neill’s “Before Breakfast” and Sonja Linden’s “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to me by a Young Lady from Rwanda.”

Each play addresses the struggles of women forced to cope with the outcomes of complex decisions. Because of this, Doyle and Green decided to name their joint effort “Aftermath.”

“Students can expect to see some moving pieces of theatre that will be challenging to convention and maybe even a little disturbing,” Doyle said via email.

For her capstone, Doyle chose to present “Before Breakfast.” The play tells the story of the unhappy marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Rowland. Although it has been staged many times since its debut in 1916, Doyle put a personalized visual twist on the classic story. She decided to incorporate her knowledge from her Broadcast and Electronic Communication background by adding a video element to the production.

“Combining the video and live performance components has been challenging, but when all of the pieces come together, it’s incredibly satisfying,” Doyle said.

Green’s play of choice, “I Have Before Me …” is a more recent story that recaps the experiences of Rwandan refugee Juliette Nyirabeza during the 1994 genocide.

“When people see this production, I hope they take away the story of what happened to the people in Rwanda,” Green said. “I hope to open people’s eyes.”

Despite the excitement of the process, Green said she has also experienced a lot of stress.

“For one, PR’s death (was hard) because she was the director and had everything in her hands,” Green said, referring to the late Phylis Ravel, a theatre arts professor who died in November. “Also having not done a show on my own before, it was kind of weird because I didn’t know what to do – the process, the turnaround time was so fast.”

Doyle and Green also decided to change venues for their shows after rehearsals had begun because they thought it would be better for the plays. Since both are small productions, they moved the performances from the Helfaer Theatre’s main stage to the dance studio.

With the Helfaer’s most recent production, “A Dollhouse,” just closing Sunday, Doyle and Green had the ability to rehearse more frequently in the studio than on the main stage to better prepare for the performances.

“The most exciting thing about this entire process has been the realization that you have the ability to put up a show as a producer of sorts,” Green said.

What audiences won’t directly see is the amount of work the students and faculty members have put in over the past few months on the shows.

“Having wonderful, dedicated people to work with is the most valuable asset to have,” Doyle said.

Doyle and Green began the capstone process in the fall by submitting a proposal and assembling a committee of faculty members to assist students design and direct the projects. After the proposals were approved, the production process began. Doyle and Green put together design teams, cast the shows and began rehearsal.

“The talent and dedication that have gone into producing these projects is incredible, and I think audiences will see that Marquette produces students who can do impressive things,” Doyle said.

For Doyle and Green, the senior capstone project has been a long, stressful process but ultimately enjoyable and educational.

“Daring to succeed at something so incredible seems impossible, but the beauty of the senior capstones is the fostering of an environment in which teamwork, experimentation and even a little failure are all encouraged,” Doyle said.