Behind the Scenes: Dead Man Walking


Dead Man Walking cast

Liam Avioli

For my thesis, I decided to stage manage and student direct part of  Dead Man Walking with the help of Dr. Erwin. This was the first time that I had really gotten involved in the technical side of theater, as I had always been on the performing side. It was a very educational and insightful experience. I was in charge of all of the actors now, well at least to some extent anyway. I had all these new responsibilities that I had never thought of before as a performer. I had to make sure the cast learned their lines, help block scenes, work on the program for the show, and I also had to run the projector that we used for the show. I also made the decision to star in another show over at Villa during the same time, which looking back on it now may not have been the best decision on my part. It did make juggling all of my responsibilities just a little bit harder, but I think it did end up working out for the best. 

Another thing I had to learn for this was conflict mediation, as there were some personal issues in the cast that I had to help resolve. Overall, I’m glad I chose the thesis that I did because it helped me start to develop the skills that I’m going to need for college and the career I hope to pursue. If you couldn’t tell, I plan to be a theater major. I hope to be able to pursue a career in stage management or directing a theatre. One of the bonuses of my thesis, or so I thought, was that I’d have all of my work for it done before winter term because the show premiered in the fall. I was informed by Dr. Erwin that I would also have to student-direct our production of Newsies this winter. This will be particularly interesting because I’ve also been cast in the show, so I’m sure that will be very fun to figure out when rehearsals start! I’m strangely excited that my thesis isn’t over just yet because it gives me more time to direct and understand the process on another level because it’s a musical this time. 

Now that may just seem like a play that has a song thrown in every now and then. Believe me that’s what I thought when I first started too! But it’s a LOT more complicated than that, especially when I’m going from a drama about the death penalty to a story about the workers rights of Newsies in the early twenties of New York, with some intense tap dancing thrown in there. It’s quite a change in tone to say the least. But then again, I believe it will end up being an even better experience than Dead Man Walking, and for anyone who reads this, come out and see Newsies in February. I’m sure it’ll have something for all of you to enjoy.

Editorial Note: Newsies will run Feb. 9-12 at 7pm with the final show on Feb. 13 at 2pm! This show involves both students and some of your favorite faculty, so mark your calendars!