By Alyssa Schoeneman, AEL Intern
If you have ever found yourself staring out your tiny dorm window, wishing for the days of high school passed, think about pulling a Wendy Schiller. That is, round up some of your old high school buddies and start a business….or in Schiller’s case, an acting troupe.
2005 Theatre Studies BFA and ensemble 113 managing director Wendy Schiller s just one of many Illinois students involved in Skokie’s up-and-coming theatre troupe; 2010 Acting BFAs Marty Dubin, Marty Scanlon and Benjamin Rosenthal, and 2012 Costume Design and Technology BFA Jessica Trier are also full time members.
The group was founded in the summer of 2008 by Northwestern alumnus Clayton Fox; it initially consisted of 15 alumni from Niles North Theatre. Each company member plays a role in every ensemble113 production, though his or her role can vary from acting to directing, or from stitching costumes to set design. ensemble113 works most intensely during breaks in the school year, as that is when most of the members are in town.
“ensemble113 was born out of [the group’s] desire to work together,” said ensemble member Marty Dubin. “Here was a group of 15 competent artists, all of whom knew each other well…we all thought, ‘Why not continue making art together?’”
Though he enjoys working closely with his peers, Dubin stressed the importance of establishing a hierarchy in a big group.
“The most difficult part so far has been agreeing on everything,” he said. “With 15 people, there are a lot of opinions to take into account, so we have clashed over a few issues thus far. “
It is for this reason, he continued, that there needs to be someone who can have the final say on something.
“Whether it is a mutually chosen mediator for an argument, or an Artistic Director who can listen to every pitched idea for a season and make the best decision for the group, there needs to be someone who has the final say, and whose word will be respected,” Dubin said.
As long as the group keeps an open line of communication throughout the process, everything will go more smoothly, he has learned; once negative feelings well up, gossip and discontent are not far behind.
Though the creative process has its bumps, the seasoned artists that make up ensemble113 know how to pull things together to produce a great show.
“The most fun part of being in an acting ensemble is seeing everything come together in the days before a show, despite the fact that, only a few days ago, it seemed like the show would never happen,” Dubin said.
Visit their website: www.ensemble113.org to learn more.