Volume 73, Issue 6
October 12, 2001

Fuddy Mears debuts as year's first drama thesis

Stephanie Gerhold

September 4, Jill Kroos' senior thesis Fuddy Meers premiered in Tawes Theater. Written in 1999 by David Lindsay-Abaire, the play has recently gathered rave reviews, debuting off-Broadway in New York City.

As a drama major, Kroos selected her thesis topic during the second semester of her junior year. Kroos explained, "The play deals with distorted images - people putting up a front [in order] to hide themselves, and in the middle of it all, there's one woman who is trying to figure out ... her past."

Kroos chose the play in particular because it showcased a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of characters. "The characters are so big, so unusual, so abnormal, so funny," said Kroos.

Sophomore Siobhain O'Connor, also a drama major, played the lead role of Claire, a woman with Amnesia who desperately wants to remember her past. As O'Connor explained, "It's a dark comedy. [The play] ... takes place during this one particular day. [Claire] is basically the only sane one in a really insane world."

Even though this was not O'Connor's first acting debut (she has performed in previous Washington College plays such as Black Comedy and Veronica's Room), she was nervous about the play: "[Kroos] is one of my best friends, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well ... She is a very talented director. She did a great job with blocking."

As the first thesis production of the year, Kroos was given a very narrow time frame to prepare the show.

"I did a lot of research over the summer and just went right into it the first day of classes," she explained. Auditions were held the first week of school and were open to all students.

The cast held practice every day with only two days off during the rehearsal process. Because classes were canceled for Fall Break, Kroos scheduled the performances for Thursday, September 4 and Friday, September 5, as most students would be off campus on Saturday. The show was open to everyone including staff, students, and the community at no cost.

O'Connor noted, "There were a decent amount [of people] considering it was Fall Break. I think there were a lot of people from the community there Friday ... [The show] got better every night."

Alumni Jillian "Keeza" Matundan designed the minimalist set: "Pieces were moved around and reused. I wanted to work with the entire vision of a fun-house, carnival, distorted images. [The audience] is supposed to see the play from Claire's perspective as much as possible," said Kroos.

When asked for her reaction concerning the production itself, Kroos replied, "It was really good. I was really nervous - being the first thesis you only have a month [to prepare]. I had a really good cast and crew so it wasn't as stressful as I thought it might be. I have heard a lot of horror stories!"

Overall Kroos felt that "it was a very, very fulfilling experience. I didn't think I could do it. [But] I did it really well, I think. I know I want to do theater for a living after doing this. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment."

Audience members such as junior Allison Heishman agreed with Kroos, saying, "To me the whole show was an amusement ride. It was laugh upon laugh right up until the end when it hits you, how truly tragic their lives are, and what hardships each character has endured."

She added, "There was a perfect blend of both of these worlds. Strong direction was evident in every scene, and I could tell both cast and crew worked hard towards a common vision and indeed achieved their goal brilliantly."

Senior Tamanya Garza also attended the performance. "I loved it," Garza stated. "I thought it was really good and obviously Jill is one of my best friends so I've seen her work on it for a year and a half ... The first night the audience walked out saying 'That's so funny.' The second night, they said, "That's so sad.' It is what it is."