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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Lights Up! Enter Stage Right

November 19, 2015

Upstage Club: A Penny SavedA villain, a hero, and a happily ever-after provide the perfect recipe for mass entertainment. Just ask members of the Fresno campus’ Upstage Club, as they took their bows after three live performances of “A Penny Saved”, on September 3rd.

Over 100 students, staff and faculty cheered and booed – at appropriate times – four not-quite seasoned, but completely enthusiastic student-actors, along with four brave staff/faculty-actors.  “None are professional actors, but all of them did a great job learning their lines and adding the drama to melodrama,” says Nancy Hale, Learning Resource Coordinator, Upstage Club Advisor and Director of the play.

Esteemed actors:

Nicole Weiss, Medical Office & Medical Assisting Instructor

Diana Humphrey, Medical Assisting Student

Stevie Walter, Medical Assisting Student

Cheyenne De Los Santos, Medical Office Administration Student

Satwinder Sohal, Pharmacy Technology Instructor

Aaron Gaulden, Student Center Coordinator

Jerry Franksen, Gen Ed Instructor and acting Dean of Student Services

Tiffany Carpenter, Medical Assisting Student

Actors rehearsed in half-hour increments for several weeks before their play’s premiere. “We went from initial script reads where no one can keep from laughing, to final rehearsals and then to the show where the audience is doing the laughing…that’s how it should be,” says Jerry Franksen, Gen Ed instructor, who relished his role as the play’s villain.

The play’s audience did not likely catch a couple of lost lines or unscripted dialogue that most live performances experience. “They were pretty smooth about it and would wind themselves back around to get the story told,” says Nancy. “They would improvise a little bit and just roll with it.”

They might have even improved on the original script. That is what true actors tell themselves.

All of the efforts of the play’s ensemble paid off. Not only did the 30-minute performances please audiences, the modest admission price brought in $171 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno.

“The highlight of performing in the play for me was in watching the audience’s reactions,” says Cheyenne De Los Santos. “I didn’t have a lot of lines, so I got to enjoy the show just as much as they did.”

It was also a great chance for students and instructors to share a different kind of experience. “Stepping out of our daily student/employee role to provide a light and fun escape for others, all the while raising much-needed funds for our local Boys and Girls Club, was the highlight for me,” says Mr. Franksen.

Sometimes it is just fun to be silly. “I love trying to learn lines and being funny in front of others,” says Nicole Weiss.

The Fresno campus looks forward to the next Upstage Club, Visual and Performing Arts Society, performance.