Thanks to the Student Theater Actor Guild, theater is officially making its way to UW Tacoma. Back in February at the Broadway Center in Tacoma, a dramatic reading of Quiara Alegria Hudes’ “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue,” directed by Marilyn Bennett, was performed by both UW Tacoma students and community actors. Now, Bennett and company are gearing up for a full production of “Water by the Spoonful,” Hudes’ second installment in her play trilogy.
Starting spring quarter, a full credit class under UW Tacoma Theater Practicum 490, will be offered to anyone involved in the production. This time around, Bennett will be donning an official professor title.
“Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue” follows Elliot Ortiz, an 18-year-old who goes to fight at the start of the Iraq War. With a familial Marine background, Elliot compares his life to his “Pop’s” experience in the Vietnam War and his “Grandpop’s” experience in the Korean War.
Christopher Wu, who played Pop, found acting in a play about the aftermath of war to be important, as he himself was in the Navy.
“The play tells a very poignant story about war and its costs,” said Wu. “Helping to tell that story was an exciting, new experience for me.”
Partnering with the Broadway Center and Toy Boat for the dramatic reading, UWT was able to attract a crowd the Pantages Theater may not have beckoned otherwise. Because of this, “Water by the Spoonful” is already underway.
This second installment follows Elliot years after his honorable discharge, now struggling with family sickness and a past prescription drug addiction due to a war-sustained leg injury. It also explores the relationship between Elliot and his birth mother — a former crack addict who runs a recovery chat room online.
According to Beck Adelante, a returnee who acted in “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue,” the way Bennett handled the dramatic reading was inspiring.
“Because of how smart and easy she is to work with, our different levels of acting experience never felt like a barrier,” Adelante said. “She is a great teacher and director.”
Even though the final castings for “Water by the Spoonful” have been made, there is still room for involvement. Backstage presence is important, and anyone willing to help in any way can still enroll in the class and receive full credit.
Guild president Nikkia Atkinson urges others to join the theater movement at UW Tacoma, knowing she herself was lucky enough to make her way into the organization.
“Theater at UW Tacoma has been a long time coming,” said Atkinson. “I originally applied here thinking there was a theater program, and stumbling upon something like STAG was a happy accident.”
Until showtime a few months down the road, Bennett and company will be working hard to put on the best show possible for UW Tacoma.
“Water by the Spoonful” will be performed on May 4–6 and May 11–13, located in our black box theater in Cherry Parks 007. Students, faculty and community members are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Kelsie is a senior at UWT and is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Tacoma Ledger. She is double majoring in creative writing and film studies, and has fiction published in the Tahoma West literary arts journal. In her spare time, she enjoys stage managing local Tacoma theater productions and working as a barista at Volcano Coffee in Puyallup.