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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fresh faces take the stage

Mattie Yoncha ’20 and Ryenn Hayes ’22 perform in “The Burial of Thebes” PHOTOS: KERRY McINTYRE

First year students make up half of “The Burial at Thebes” cast

The SJU Theatre Company finished their performance of “The Burial at Thebes,” a version of Sophocles’ “Antigone” written by Seamus Heaney, on April 14.

Half of the play’s cast, including one of the lead roles, were comprised of first year students.

According to SJU Theatre Company Artistic Director Laura Pattillo, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, casting the best performers possible is more important than age and experience.

“This audition pool just happened to have a lot of very strong first year students in it,” Pattillo said.

According to Patillo, seniority is not a factor in casting for the play.

“The way to win a role is to show potential at the initial audition and then show me what I need to see at callbacks, no matter who you are,” Pattillo said. “If you are the best casting choice for the role, I don’t care what your major is or whether you are a senior, a junior, a sophomore, a freshman, a grad student or a part-time student.”

Mattie Yoncha ’20, who played the lead role Antigone, said there was a need for new actors  considering many students decided to perform in “Beauty and the Beast” instead.

“We lost two seniors who were consistent in the plays [and] ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was such a big cast,” Yoncha said. 

Additionally, Yoncha explained once auditions end and people are casted, some realize they cannot move forward with the play. This happened with one of the play’s lead roles, Creon.

Ryenn Hayes ’22 was originally cast in the chorus, but due to an unforeseen drop from the original person cast to play Creon, she auditioned.

Hayes said she was honored to have been chosen by Pattillo to play the lead role.

“It was a good introduction to the theatre company,” Hayes said. “It is always exciting being on stage, and I will definitely continue on with the student theatre company as well as the plays.”

Yoncha said she was thrilled to have new faces join her on stage, especially since she has usually been among the younger students in the productions.

“I have always been the underclassman, and there have always been more upperclassmen than underclassmen,” Yoncha said.

According to Yoncha, “The Burial at Thebes” was a good opportunity for a new cast member’s  first play because it is short and has no intermission.

Yoncha also noted “The Burial at Thebes” is good for someone starting out because of the large amount of dialogue in the play. She said it pushes everyone to try their hardest when memorizing their lines.

“The one thing I will say about the SJU Theatre Company, especially with my experience in the plays, is that it’s a very welcoming community,” Yoncha said. “We are very much there to build each other up, not tear each other down.”

Relying on more experienced students like Yoncha for support enabled Hayes to flourish and see her potential within the SJU Theatre Company.

“I definitely had a growth experience through the show because the cast gave me a place,” Hayes said. “The older cast members welcoming me, being nice and always offering to help if I needed it with lines and such. They definitely gave me somewhere I felt I belonged.”

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