Senior Theater and English major Makayla Baker has recently begun organizing Royal Players, a student-led theater club open to theater and non-theater majors alike. She hopes to organize a bi-weekly meeting time once the group members align their schedules and see where the group takes things from there.
Since she first came to EMU, Baker wanted to see a free-form theater group separate from the theater department. She thought Gonzo could expand, but once she realized that Gonzo was not intended for that purpose, Baker investigated other options. This past summer she got the ball rolling, talking to students from local colleges to figure out logistics and implementing a similar format here on campus.
“It’s not like Gonzo,” Baker said, realizing that some students might hear about Royal Players and immediately compare it to the other student-led theater group on campus. “Gonzo is more of a strict, one-person led idea. [Royal Players] is a coalition, a collaboration, a getting together and doing things.” One day, Baker hopes she will see non-theater students directing, getting involved, and taking part in theater together.
“I’m completely obsessed [with theater], I’ll admit,” Baker laughed. “I live, breathe, drink theater. It’s all I want to do for the rest of my life.”
While Baker does not expect everyone involved in Royal Players to share the extremity of her passion, she does believe that theater is applicable and beneficial for everyone. It’s a “way to build contacts and skills you actually use in the real world” such as communication, organization, and budgeting, and it “does more for you than you think,” Baker said.
Baker sees theater as more than just “art for art’s sake,” emphasizing that it is more for the people sitting in the audience than the actors on the stage. “Theater opens the door to empathy,” Baker said. As an audience member, “you’re hearing [the character’s] story, going through his journey with him, and realizing that he’s a human being.”
Baker wants to try different types of theater with the group, from filming murder mysteries, performing in the street, to visiting nursing homes. “There are so many other types [of theater] that people don’t know about,” Baker noted. “I’d like to see more ‘out there’ theater than ‘in here’ theater contained in closed spaces.” If certain types of performances excite the group more than others, then they will try something similar again.
Come February, Baker looks forward to tackling Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”, an episodic compilation of stand-alone stories that capture different aspects of the feminine experience. Many colleges perform “The Vagina Monologues” in coordination with Valentine’s Day, calling the event “V-Day” and passing out free lollipops to ignite excitement.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask me to do [“The Vagina Monologues”],” Baker said. Regardless of whether or not Royal Players can obtain the rights to the play, Baker plans on organizing some sort of monologue performance dedicated to the empowerment of women.
“I just can’t believe I’m doing this,” Baker said, wide-eyed with excitement. “My freshman year, [the seniors] were like theater gods and they were involved in everything and I didn’t even know how to get to that point. Now I’m thinking, ‘Oh, start a theater club? Let’s do this. Chop chop!’”
Baker does not want to do anything “too crazy” at first, but she looks forward to seeing Royal Players gain momentum as the year progresses.
Written by Liesl Graber, Staff Writer