What if Lady Macbeth and Richard III met in hell? What if a high schooler planned a bank heist?
Or what if longtime Lane Community College professor Patrick Torelle were trying really hard retire, and the one-act plays he helped students craft still needed staging?
The ten-minute play festival Spring Inspirations has been around for more than 15 years. In a nine-month process, Torelle teaches a playwriting class, then helps his students find directors and actors to stage their plays. It’s an important rite of passage for LCC theatre students, but it’s Torelle’s baby.
Spring Inspirations actor-turned-producer Johnny Rodgers was in the midst of searching for lethal-looking props when I reached him by phone. “Well, it wouldn’t be Spring Inspirations if we didn’t have to find weapons,” Rodgers says with a laugh. Weapons? Apparently he has less than a week to find a bomb, two M16s and a shotgun.
But props are only a part of the process. Rodgers, along with other former LCC Student Production Association members Michelle Nordella, Adam Leonard and Marla Norton, has worked tirelessly. They’re reading and editing plays, dealing with casting issues and helping train directors, all in their attempt to “carry forward Patrick’s original idea and continue to open doors for the many students (yet) to come,” he says.
Among cast and crew are a number of fresh faces. Rodgers notes that most of the directors are directing for only their first or second time. “The productions have an array of experienced actors and tech, and a collection of new student eager to sink their teeth into a show,” he explains.
And how are the shows shaping up? “I’m really excited to see all of them!” Rodgers says. “All of the directors have really impressed me.”
Spring Inspirations is always a mix of “intense drama to really out-there comedy,” Rodgers promises a few more laughs over tears this year, noting “it is a great show with a variety of pieces encompassing a medley of emotions.”
I’m impressed by these graduates coming together to preserve a tradition. Rodgers humbly expresses the feelings of his alumni group: “We are only trying to carry the torch and keep the dream alive.”Spring Inspirations runs May 3 – 12; all evening shows at 7:30, doors open at 7pm; Sunday matinee will be at 2pm; $5 suggested donation or canned food for FOOD For Lane County.