BY KATELYN TRELA | The Daily Tar Heel
Sophomore Clare Shaffer had a vision for Company Carolina.
After directing a play as a freshman, Shaffer wanted bigger audiences and more shows for the group.
This season, as producing artistic director, Shaffer has helped bring new life to the community theater company.
Rob Hamilton, the group’s faculty adviser, said Shaffer’s ideas have helped Company Carolina reach new heights.
“With her there, they seem to have really ramped up their ability to present themselves in a professional manner,” he said.
By putting business majors on the business side of things, she said, the company would be more functional.
“The biggest job is putting in someone competent,” she said.
Will Hawkins was one of those people.
The sophomore is Company Carolina’s functioning dramaturg. He researches the logistical probability that a proposed show can be done, especially regarding cost.
Company Carolina receives about half of its annual spending budget from student government and half from ticket revenue.
This season, the company received $6,131 from student government and brought in about $11,671 from ticket sales. The group also received a $1,000 grant from Zipcar.
After 23 performances of six productions, the group’s total expenses were about $10,166 of an available $18,802.
The most expensive performance was also the group’s most attended — “Spring Awakening.”
Performed from March 24 to 26, Hawkins said the awareness it brought is invaluable.
“That kind of show with wide appeal is what we want for next year,” he said.
Royalties for the 2006 musical cost them $1,800, only a portion of the show’s $7,118 price tag.
“Musicals cost so much more than anything else, and it’s a cheap one,” Shaffer said. “But everyone comes to musicals.”
With attendance of around 700, Company made back about $5,716.
The group’s most sizeable profit came with the yearly Valentine’s Day staple, “The Vagina Monologues.” The performance cost $903 and made back $4,088. They gave $3,600 of that profit to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and $400 to the V-Day Spotlight campaign.
Junior Gentry Hodnett hadn’t heard of the company before “The Vagina Monologues.” The play piqued her interest, she auditioned and is now a part of the company.
“Company Carolina has definitely given me a new home within the Carolina community that I never knew I had,” she said.
Shaffer said she is proud of the group’s community atmosphere, which doesn’t cater to the drama-student niche.
“It doesn’t feel cliquish.”
Hawkins said the group will try to publicize that aspect to draw in new audiences and auditioners.
“If people are willing to take a little risk, we could do a lot.”
By Andrea McKerlie I CVNC
April 14, 2012 - Chapel Hill, NC:
A warm spring day in Chapel Hill's Polk Place (the main quad on campus) was the setting of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream this weekend, presented by the completely student-run Company Carolina. This UNC-Chapel Hill company is based on a professional theater model, with students in all positions, from actors to directors to marketing and publicity coordinators. This is their first "Shakespeare on the Quad" production, which the Company hopes to make an annual event.
Student director Daniel Doyle chose to get the audience involved in the action by allowing for the actors to move throughout the grassy area where the audience was seated. The location of this play similarly required a little bit of audience participation. The first scene took place on the steps of the Louis Round Wilson Library, a giant, historic building which served to take the audience back in time. Then, after the "cast" had been assigned, we all trekked back over to the grassy area, where we were encouraged to sit close enough to hear the actors; as being outside brought its share of ambient noise. There were campus tours, a UNC football game, and a Science Expo all happening simultaneously, so the actors were careful to project over the resulting noise and only a few lines were lost in the more intimate one-on-one scenes between Hermia and Demetrius.
Despite a few minor distractions, the setting of the play, in a pretty corner of the quad under some beautiful trees, contributed to the night forest setting in which most of the action takes place. The fairies blended right in with nature, adorned with flowers, body paint, and bright clothing that gave them an ethereal look. Similarly, the costuming of the Athenians was well-done; contemporary enough to make them believable but Shakespearean enough to distinguish the actors from the audience and passers-by.
A Midsummer Night's Dream has a great mix of comedy, drama, and fantasy already, and Company Carolina certainly did not fail to capture all of the nuances of Shakespeare's writing. They livened up the dialogue, adding a few contemporary references – and even songs! – to make the humor obvious, since the average person's usual complaint about Shakespeare plays is not being able to understand the language(!).
The "actors," including Snout, Bottom, Flute, and Peter Quince, were hilarious, and the more serious characters like Helena, Lysander, Demetrius, and Hermia, were enjoyable and funny at times. This production featured a lot of well-choreographed fight scenes that were often very comical, as well, but well-done. Puck, Titania, Oberon, and the fairies were also particularly endearing to the audience because of their amusement at the mortals' plight and also their care that everything be set right again.
Company Carolina presented a high-quality performance, although in the future they might make their location a little easier to find; the dark green and gold set pieces tended to blend in with the trees and grass of the Quad, and their hand-spray-painted signage was a little unclear. Don't be fooled by the rough signs, though. The Company knows how to do Shakespeare right and I wish them the best in giving everyone the opportunity to come see a new, organic, interpretation of the master playwright.
A Midsummer Night's Dream will continue on April 21 and 22 at 3:00pm in Polk Place, near the Louis Round Wilson Library - for details, see the sidebar. The performance is "BYOB" (bring your own blanket!) and sunscreen/sunglasses are recommended because it is a very sunny area. This is Company Carolina's final production for the season.
Reviews, previews, and other coverage of Shaffer shows.