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The Actor’s Process: How Howard Thespians Prepare for the Stage

By Chanel Cain, Staff Reporter

The Howard Players’ 8×10 festival allows student actors and playwrights to showcase their work on stage. The show features eight, 10-minute original plays.

With only two weeks left until the second annual 8×10 Play Festival, the Howard Players’ focus and drive has increased. This is especially true for the actors and actresses of the eight plays, who have been honing their characters for the past month. Many are cast in two different productions which offers the challenge of balancing contrasting roles.

Three cast members of From Calypso, With Love, a retelling of The Odyssey, also have comedic roles in other plays. Junior Camille Capers plays Circe in From Calypso with Love, a conniving antagonist towards Calypso. Her other role is in the play The Housewarming, where a group of friends get into mischief with a ouija board. Capers plays the cautious and apprehensive Cas. 

She finds this role easier to work with, noting that “she’s so much like me, I saw a lot of myself in her.” Cire, on the other hand, differs from Capers’ personality, so highlighting these differences helps to enhance the character.

Junior Sophia Early also uses this technique to help develop her characters. She plays a Chorus Member in From Calypso, With Love and Casey in Oh No Baby What is You Doin? Working with the Chorus Member character gave Early ample room to be creative since the character is not inherently described. With this she chose to exaggerate more of her own personality traits added with the serious, stoic presentation of the character. Because Casey is a named character, Early had to adapt herself into the role.

“The number one rule of being an actor is that you can’t judge your characters,” Early stated.

Casey’s character is hardworking yet irresponsible, and a frantic scatterbrain. Early, who tends to be more organized and mature, uses these differences to better understand and portray the character.

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Sophomore Curtis Melrose costars with Early in both productions. His role in From Calypso, With Love is Odysseus, the hero of The Odyssey turned villain in this reimagining. The role is more serious and poetic, and playing the villain adds an extra layer to the process. Melrose’s character in Oh No Baby What is You Doin? is Anthony, the teenage spirit of baby Casey is babysitting. This character is understandably more comedic, with the character being nonsensical and child-like. 

The difference in the emotional weight of the characters has been a welcome challenge for Melrose who said, “the characters are very different; it has been fun for me.”

With all of the difficulties these actors faced preparing for 8×10, they all noted that the environment made it easier for them to do the work.

“You really get to see the genius of your peers which is exciting,” said Melrose when remarking of the rehearsal process.

Working with other student artists motivates them to go above and beyond to truly display the hard work and creativity that everyone has put into this production.

The 8×10 Play Festival will take place on Thursday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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