Designing and Acting for The Stage Door Project

This post is the fifth in a series of guest posts from our 2016 Stage Door Project students at Rochester’s own School of the Arts! In case you missed the Stage Door Project: To Kill a Mockingbird introductory post that explains the exciting details of this year’s Stage Door Project and what all the students involved in this partnership between SOTA and Geva are up to, you can read it along with the previous guest posts from Tali Beckwith-Cohen (playing Scout in the SOTA production), William McDonough (playing Atticus in the SOTA production), Yolanda Santana (SOTA graphic design student), and Katherine Fuss (SOTA props student) here.

Hello, my name is Alfredo Aponte and I am part of the Geva Theatre Center Stage Door Project for To Kill a Mockingbird. In the Stage Door Project, I am in the cast (as ensemble) for the School of the Arts performance, as well as being a sound design student. For me, the Stage Door Project started before it even officially began! Another SOTA student, Josh (who is in the Stage Door Project, focusing on sound design as well), and I got to meet sound designer Dan Roach at one the final tech rehearsals for the Geva production of Miracle on South Division Street. Weeks before the Stage Door Project began, Josh and I were invited to meet Dan at one of Miracle‘s tech rehearsals to absorb everything we were seeing and hearing, ask many questions, and see a great play before it even opened to the public! At the tech rehearsal, I got see the process of a show getting its final touches and getting ready to open, the actors performing the whole show without having to call out “line” once, the director finishing choreographing the bows with the actors, and a production meeting between all of the tech and production people that were involved in the show. After the meeting with Dan, I began rehearsals for SOTA’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird and was looking forward to beginning the Stage Door Project!

Audio Engineer Ian Hilderth, Sound Designer Dan Roach, and SOTA students Joshua Pettway and Alfredo Aponte (design students for the Stage Door Project), meet to explore sound design during Miracle on South Division Street and To Kill a Mockingbird

On the first day of the Stage Door Project, all the students that were participating in the project met Geva’s Associate Director of Education, Lara Rhyner, who told us all about the Stage Door Project, what we would be doing and could expect throughout the project, and that she was going be there every step of the way. We began by emailing our counterparts in Geva’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird. We introduced ourselves and started an ongoing conversation by asking them questions – it was a great experience to get to know our counterpart better. Next, we got to meet the actor who is playing Atticus in Geva’s production (Skip Greer, Geva’s Director of Education and Artist at Residence). He guided us through a lot of acting exercises and gave us a lot of advice about acting while sharing some stories with us.

Geva actor Remi Sandri (Mr. Radley/Bob Ewell) leads one of several acting workshops with the SOTA cast of To Kill a Mockingbird

Then, I began attending several of Geva’s production meetings with other Stage Door Project students focusing on production and design so we could learn how professional design and production people collaborate to build a production, as well as attending weekly rehearsals for Geva’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird. At those rehearsals, we watched the show, and the actors, grow. We learned a lot from the actors and from observing Geva’s tech, having dinner with our counterparts, and supporting each other all the way up until opening night for the Geva production, as they are supporting us all the way up until opening night for our production.

Geva Theatre Center’s Stage Door Project for To Kill a Mockingbird gave me experiences that I will never forget, such as learning more about tech, sound design, and acting, giving me an opportunity to perform on a professional stage, giving me the opportunity to see what goes on backstage, and experiencing how amazing it can be to put on a show together.

Stage Door Project design students Tiana Carey, Maggie Enderle, Alfredo Aponte, Emmett Lewis-McKinze, and Michael Gordon discuss design inspirations and ideas with Geva Costume Shop Manager Amanda Doherty and SOTA teacher and theatre director Luke Fellows

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