Four USC undergrads put their improv skills to the test, and earned a spot on the fictional swim team in the upcoming production of "Dry Land."
Los Angeles might be the home of film, but don't write off its theatre scene. Over 250 theatres reside in the City of Angels, each with a different story to tell—but not all stories get the attention they deserve. Center Theatre Group is hoping to change that. This April and May, Center Theatre Group will be hosting "Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre." Their aim is to bring three plays that originally premiered at smaller theatres around Los Angeles to the big stage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
The three shows that will be featured are:
"Failure: A Love Story"— Couerage Theatre Company.
"Citizen: An American Lyric"— The Fountain Theatre
"Dry Land"— Echo Theatre Company
The final production, "Dry Land," written by Ruby Rae Spiegel, deals with the topic of unwanted teenage pregnancy.
Two swim team members, Amy and Ester, form a friendship after Amy becomes pregnant. In an attempt to quietly take care of the situation, Amy enlists the help of Ester, and the two try a series of DIY abortions.
This production will include four of USC's very own— Sidne Phillips, Francesca O'Hern, Bukola Ogunmola, and Tessa Hope Slovis— who will play members of the swim team as they move in and out of the girls' locker room (where the whole story takes place).
In a recent telephone interview, Sidne Phillips shared a bit about her experience coming onto this production, and how she handles being in both school and shows.
How did you get involved with this production of "Dry Land"?
I got an email from Meghan Laughlin, who is the internship coordinator and the extra events coordinator at the USC School of Dramatic Arts, and they were looking for some extras to be a part of the swim team. She said they were doing an open call on campus, … and I get there, and there are over 50 people signed up for this thing. It was a bunch of improv stuff—we had to pretend that we were a part of a high school swim team, and I had this really great group of girls to work with, and we did it a couple of times, and that was it… Then, a couple days later, I got an email asking about my availability, and a couple days after that I got an email saying that they wanted me to do it. So I was super flattered that whatever they wanted, they saw in a couple minutes of me talking about high school boys that I made up in my head. I'm really, really grateful, and I'm just super excited to get started.
You had a lead role in the spring musical, Evita, plus classes, and on top of all that, you work for the School of Dramatic Arts. How do you balance school, work, and rehearsals?
I have no idea, honestly. This semester, separate from Evita, and separate from my job, and separate from my schoolwork, I was also publicity chair for my gospel choir, I'm on MTR for publicity and public relations, and then I'm part of a service organization as well, where I do their marketing and I run a project at 75th Street Elementary School, so this semester was just insane, like absolutely crazy, but when I look back on it—well it's not over yet, frankly—but when I look back on it, I would not have given up anything. I think you have to be passionate about the things that you're doing. With all my classes I kept up with the reading because they were always good, and I could always relate them back to other aspects of my life— including acting … I was just really passionate about all the things that I was a part of, and I would not want to drop any of it. You make time for things that you love. Some things have to fall to the wayside, like I didn't have much of a social life I guess … but it was definitely worth it I think, to get heavily involved in all these different aspects of my life that I really care about.
What's next for you?
I found out yesterday that I got selected for the Television Academy internship, for development, and then the ABC Studios chose me to be their intern through the Television Academy, so I'll be working at ABC, in their development department, and I am over the moon, so excited for that. This is going to be my last semester in the fall, I'm graduating early, and so I definitely want to be on the lookout for representation for acting. I am also trying to get involved in my friend's production group because I am a writer as well, and I really want to get a web series on its feet … Lots of ideas! Who knows what's going to stick, but I'm kind of throwing everything at the wall and hopefully something sticks. It's just the passion that I have for the things that I'm involved in. I think that's where the success comes from, as far as being able to do all of that. It's kind of crazy when I look at my schedule I guess, but other people are super busy too, but it's always busy with stuff that they love, so that's how I survive I guess.
Catch Sidne in "Dry Land," opening May 12th at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
"Dry Land" will be playing May 12th-21st at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. For tickets, visit https://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/kirk-douglas-theatre/2016-17/block-party/
Contact Staff Reporter Julia Stier here