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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

Seniors of Tufts theater reflect on four years of performance

Graduating seniors Claudia Henry, Tate Olitt and Audrey Sacks discuss their experiences with student theater groups 3Ps and Torn Ticket II.

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The cast of 3Ps’ “Eight Women” is pictured in Balch Arena Theater.

Over 100 years after its founding in 1910, Tufts’ oldest student theater organization is continuing theater tradition and trying new things. Pen, Paint, and Pretzels, otherwise known as 3Ps, puts on productions of contemporary and classic plays every semester. Students in 3Ps have the opportunity to perform in, design and direct plays proposed the semester prior to each production.  

In the past few years, 3Ps has undergone some changes and found new solutions in the face of the pandemic. Senior Claudia Henry, previous secretary of 3Ps, described how she first got involved with 3Ps during the pandemic.

“Everything was virtual and I was not meeting up with people because I was personally very COVID-conscious,” Henry said. “I was involved with a Zoom production [that was] put on my freshman fall called ‘The Bacchae.’ I was both a director and an actor in two different portions of it.”

3Ps was originally an umbrella organization for theater groups at Tufts, but they have more recently established themselves as an independent group. Various student performance organizations, including musical theater, improv, sketch comedy and dance groups, are no longer affiliated with 3Ps. However, it’s not uncommon for students to participate in both the plays of 3Ps and the musicals of Torn Ticket II. As is typical with the experimental nature of Tufts students, people love taking their passion for theater in different directions.  

“In my opinion, as much as they are now separate [and] there’s no longer an umbrella group, I do think that anyone who’s involved with 3Ps should also feel like they’re a part of Torn Ticket as well. It’s one theater community,” Henry explained. “I’ve done plenty of work for both, so in my head, it’s hard to even distinguish between the two.”

Senior Tate Olitt, current vice president of Torn Ticket, has fostered her love for costume design through Torn Ticket productions while also trying out acting with 3Ps.

“I started in costume design,” Olitt said, “I actually discovered [costume design] in middle school. I did it all through high school, and then when I was coming to college, I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to [continue]. It is now my career trajectory.”

She continued, “I had my first experience acting a year ago, with 3Ps. I was in ‘Eurydice’ and it was an amazing experience. Now I have fallen in love with acting, and I hope to get to do more.”  

This semester, 3Ps staged a production of “Eight Women,” originally a French play called “Huit Femmes.” The story follows eight women who are all suspects in the death of a family member in an isolated cottage. The directors of the 3Ps production — Henry and Juliet Baker — translated the play into English for the Tufts audience. Henry described the challenges of the translation process.

“The fun little secret is that I actually know very little French,” Henry revealed. “Juliet Baker is the co-director and co-translator. She is from France and speaks French fluently as her first language, and this was also one of her favorite plays.” 

Henry and Baker worked together to translate the play over the course of several months.

“During the past summer, [Baker] started … going through the play in French and putting a rough translation in,” Henry said. “And then from there, we had several sessions where we sat down and went through the various scenes in the play.”

Translating the jokes was a team challenge for Baker and Henry.

“We were learning from each other the best way to get across the humor in French that I couldn’t understand [but] that she could,” Henry said. “How do we explain that and make it funny to perform for a mostly [English-speaking] audience?”

Many students across the Tufts theater groups expressed one common sentiment: a love for performance and production. Whether behind the scenes doing design or in the spotlight, the members of 3Ps and Torn Ticket put their hearts into theater. For Ana Muñiz Rodríguez, a sophomore who recently acted in “Eight Women,” she had an incredible experience in the show.

“I would do it again if I could,” Muñiz Rodríguez said. “It was a four-hour rehearsal three times a week, so it was a time commitment, but it was really fun.”

Like Olitt, many of Muñiz Rodríguez’s past theater experiences have been behind the scenes, in costume and makeup design, and she described the fun in stepping out of her comfort zone this semester. To anyone interested in theater, she encourages them to join 3Ps.

“It can be daunting at first, but it’s really fun once you step out of your comfort zone, and it’s really fun to do it with people in your grade … [while also getting] to know people in other grades,” Muñiz Rodríguez said.

For Audrey Sacks, a senior who has been involved in Torn Ticket and Tufts’ theater department productions, being on stage has been a key part of her college experience, despite the interruption of COVID-19 in her freshman year.  

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of the theater experiences and learned a lot in the three years that I’ve been able to engage with theater,” Sacks said. “I feel really good about potentially going into community theater in the future and enjoying other opportunities to get involved in some way.”

First on the list for 3Ps this fall is “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised],” which will serve as their first-year orientation show, better known as the “O-Show.” It will be directed by Sophie Littman and performed in early September at the end of orientation week.  

Sacks provided some insight into Torn Ticket’s fall lineup. “I know that next year they’re going to do a version of ‘Footloose,’ which is so exciting,” she said.

After “Footloose” in September, Torn Ticket is staging a production of the musical “Between the Lines,” while 3Ps will be producing Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Graduating from Tufts theater is an emotional experience for the seniors, who have put so much energy and passion into the productions they have been a part of. Reflecting on her time in Tufts theater, Sacks shared some of her feelings about the community.

“I’m glad that the community is so vibrant, and the graduating seniors are very, very passionate. The theater is very near and dear to our hearts,” Sacks said. “So I believe that everyone’s going to keep it in their lives in some capacity, because how can you live without it?”