Posted March 18, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Campus Life

Student Profile: Lauren Driscoll

Over the last two quarters, Lauren Driscoll and other students in her program studied and performed Beggar’s Opera, an opera written by John Gay in the 18th century. The program, Musical Theater and Cultural Contexts, performed the opera on March 6 through 9.

Driscoll was the stage manager for the production. “I volunteered for it. Really,” she said, laughing. “It was more like, who wants to be stage manager, and my hand was the first one up. And no one else wanted the job.”

“When I was 3, my mom signed me up for ballet, and show choir, and I always loved performing,” Driscoll said. “In high school, I decided to do some technical theater to be more well rounded in theater, and I ended up loving it 100 times more than being on stage.”

Beggar’s Opera was written to be a satirical Italian opera. A review of the opera, written by Allan Kozinn of the New York Times in 1990, recounted how “Gay wrote the work more as an anti-opera than an opera… One of its attractions to its 18th-century London public [is it’s] lampooning of the Italian opera style and the English public’s fascination with it.”

In the play, “You have Macheath, a swashbuckling hero, who has several wives, and is actually just a mobster,” Driscoll described. “His wives, one of whom he’s knocked up, are fighting over him. And he is trying to escape prison. It is sort of a cliché story, however, it is done in a very satirical way.”

When it came to stage-managing, Driscoll said that it is better to ask her what she doesn’t do, as opposed to what she does do. “I don’t give acting direction, I don’t act, and I don’t do publicity. I’m involved in pretty much every other department, like costumes and props. Not making them necessarily, but I am aware of the process. Managing, or being a manager, is one of those skills that not everyone has, and I somehow am one of those people who do have those skills to juggle seven things at once. I don’t always find it easy – in fact I find it hard a lot of the time – but I always find it rewarding, so I stuck with it.”

“During the performance is one of the easiest parts of the stage-managing job,” she continued, “because I have all of my cues written down in the script, and I’m just reading them over an intercom system.” When something goes wrong, it is also her job to come up with something on the spot. “You have to get as much planning done as you can beforehand, but of course, plans go awry and things go wrong.”

While the play did have a few hiccups, Driscoll was more focused on the success of the opera. Even though the program did not sell tickets, seats had to be reserved for audience members. “We ‘sold out’ of our general admission tickets under five minutes, every single night. It was insane. I was blown away by it.” Driscoll wished that the program could have performed more nights, but couldn’t, because the program had to pay for the rights of the opera.

A six-minute documentary on Evergreen’s rendition of Beggar’s Opera can be found here.

By Ray Still