DramaTech will soon stage its spring musical, Young Frankenstein, and the Technique sat down with Tejas Kotak, the current president of the theater, to get learn more about the theater and what audiences can expect.
Kotak describes DramaTech as a “part club, part theater” that is on par with dedicated theaters in the Atlanta area. It is an organization on Tech campus that is funded mostly by the SGA and has members from the current student body at Tech, alumni and even other college students and Atlanta citizens. Joining DramaTech is easy; all it takes is to come over and participate.
The week before the opening of a show is hectic. In the professional theater world it is common to just work 9-5, with only some late nights, but at Tech these are students doing a variety of things while running the theater all on their own. During the interview, the set was being put together and prepped for painting.
Does DramaTech pick a play or do you guys come together and decide?
“DramaTech chooses its plays a season in advanced via a committee process. We have what we call the Play Reading Committee , or the PRC. It’s an open committee process. The president chooses who the chair of that committee is going to be, usually in the early fall, and the committee usually runs until early spring. The general club members and committee members suggest a large list of plays to the committee, and they go through the list and read out options. In early spring they present to the club, as a whole, 6 options. Two options for the fall mainstay show and 2 options for the spring. Then they vote for the plays they want…Young Frankenstein was chosen as a spring musical for this year.”
This is a Mel Brooks film that was converted into a musical, in the early 2000s. Would you say it’s difficult to take a movie and make it into a musical?
“I think it really depends on the movie and the script. With Mel Brooks specifically, a lot of his movies have been made into plays and vice versa. The script we were given takes a lot of elements from the movie, the basic plot structures and the basic character structures, but it fleshes everything out a lot more. Which is something you don’t normally see a lot when you do that conversion. Usually you see it the other way around because in the medium of film certain subtleties are able to be expanded on….I find that this is the opposite here…
This is a script that has already been written and done hundreds of times, it’s not as if this is an untested script that we’re doing for the first time so we knew it was a well written script and a good show.”
What are you looking forward to most? What is your crew looking forward most to?
“A lot of the design crew will be happy to just see the show come to fruition, and we will pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. This has been one of the largest and most complex shows I’ve seen DramaTech accomplish, and I’ve been here since Fall 2009. So I think people will just be very happy that we have done this….I think a lot of people will also be very happy to see audience reaction to the show, both on the acting side of things and the reactions to the technical effects. There are a lot of technical effects from the lighting and sound departments, there are lot of great costumes, great choreography and great acting. We want to see how the crowd reacts, that’s why we put on a show. DramaTech considers itself a learning theater among all its other titles. We put on some shows just to figure things out, to learn how to do theater, to learn how to build create and design things. Ultimately though we put on shows to see the reactions from the audience.
What do you think the audience should look out for during the play. Anything you are particularly proud of?
“I think the audience should look specifically at some of the nuances our actors are giving to their characters and they should look at the lighting effects. There’s been a lot of meticulous planning and meticulous design choices…but definitely look at the actors, they have been working on this a lot longer than the tech-crew. One thing that I find in DramaTech actors as opposed to other shows in the Atlanta area, or even college shows, is that we look for subtlety in our characters. Part of that is because we are mostly engineering students. We have a Georgia Tech mindset about things. We are very particular and part of that is because we are in a black box theater. We get to have a certain amount of closeness and intimacy with the audience….so these are the things we try to do, we put on small nuances in the lighting and the acting.”
Well we certainly appreciate your time, is there anything final you’d like to add?
“I would definitely like to mention some of the professional staffers we’ve worked with on the show. Our director Melissa Foulger: she is directing the show and is the artistic director for DramaTech theater, which mean she helps us out on the day to day operations of the club and the long term vision of what the club is right now and what the club should be in the future. We have Seth Davis and Jeff McKerley. Seth is our musical director…and Jeff is our choreographer. We’re happy to be working with them again.”