Lukeman hopes 'Almost an Evening' will kickstart regular theatre events

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Gary Kean
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Kassie Lukeman, a third-year theatre student at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, and one of three directors of the Ethan Coen anthology “Almost an Evening,” that will hit the stage at Swirsky’s this Saturday night.

Kassie Lukeman would love to see more opportunities for people involved in theatre to show off their talents.

She is interested in starting up a series of productions that people like her — fine arts students and others intent on forging professional careers in the arts — can be involved with, particularly in the summer months.

The third-year theatre student at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University in Corner Brook is an alumnus of Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s youth program. Besides her experience as an actor, she also spent the summer of 2012 working as stage manager with the youth theatre program under the tutelage of Sarah McDonald.

Now, Lukeman is taking a big step towards developing her theatrical resumé by directing her first production. She is one of  a trio of directors who have taken on the Ethan Coen anthology “Almost an Evening,” a trilogy of short, satiric plays that will hit the stage at Swirsky’s in Corner Brook this Saturday night.

Lukeman will be doing “Debate,” the third part of the series written by the Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter.

The three parts of  “Almost an Evening” will each have a different director with Ryan Butt — who is co-organizing the production with Lukeman — opening the evening with “Waiting” and Adam Brake tackling the direction of “Four Benches.”

Lukeman and Butt hope this show marks the beginning of developing a program that will help keep theatre students working in Corner Brook when they are not in school and provide work for others trying to maintain contributions to the theatre scene in the city.

“We were looking, for a start, at doing something in January because there is not much going on that time of year and it was kind of an open slate of time to insert something,” she said in an interview about this weekend’s group effort. As things started piling up, we sort of pushed it back to February.”

Lukeman felt it was important for her to get some directorial experience, even though she is jumping right into the proverbial fire with her debut Saturday.

“I went in without any sort of mentoring or previous experience and I’m just going off my experience working with other directors and watching other directors,” she said.

She admits it was a little rocky at first, trying to effectively communicate what she wanted to the actors taking direction from her. She said it can be a tough task to reconcile what she envisions the production being and what the script requires.

“I like to think I eventually struck a nice balance with it, though, because I did give my actors a little bit of leeway to play with,” she said. “I let them feel their way through the scenes as opposed to strictly monitoring everything they have to do.”

The once-weekly rehearsals that began in early January have since become twice a week affairs and Lukeman is getting more and more confident about how her play will turn out come show time.

“Almost an Evening” is a relatively short production. The opening segment, “Waiting,” is about 15 minutes long, while “Four Benches” is even shorter at around 10 minutes. Lukeman’s finale is the longest and should come in somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes in length.

The evening, which starts at 8 p.m., will feature live music during the transitions in between each part.

“Almost an Evening” is a fundraiser for the third-year theatre students at Grenfell Campus.

Lukeman and Butt have decided to donate 80 per cent of ticket sales towards the half-term the class must spend in Harlow, England in their fourth year. The remaining 20 per cent will go to the costs of the production.

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Organizations: Grenfell, Memorial University in Corner Brook

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Harlow, England

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