Student Blog: AZAD

Workshopping a professional show at my university

Student Blog: AZAD
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I had no idea what I was signing up for when I agreed to be the assistant stage manager for a workshop at my university, Wake Forest. Friday, we met the seven-person guest artist team and sat in a circle on an empty stage, reading through the script. Saturday, we designed and configured a set. Seven days later, we presented a two hour production, complete with sound, lighting, and intricate projections. Seven days later, I had seven new friends and role models. 

 Azad, written and performed by Wake Forest alumna Sona Tatoyan, tells the story of her Armenian heritage, touching on generational trauma and the nuance of relationships. I’ve never been a part of a professional workshop, let alone one that occurs under a week. It was fascinating to experience the ins and outs of professional theatre, while constantly learning from enthusiastic artists. 

Workshops focus on the learning process, which really pushes me out of my comfort zone. I’m used to rehearsals feeling like a sprint, full of stress and the pressure to be perfect. This week was the opposite. Our director and multimedia designer, Jared Mezzocchi, maintained a calm and creative atmosphere throughout the week. The goal was never to move as fast as we could. He ensured we took our time, letting the script breathe, making the right decisions, and having deep discussions. 

Rehearsals were primarily focused on improving the script. Our first full run of the show was four hours before our presentation. Even after, we were cutting and adding lines up until 45 minutes before curtain. The goal of Thursday’s presentation was to observe the audience’s reaction. This allowed Mezzocchi to gauge which parts of the script needed to be changed (based on audience reaction). 

As someone whose theatrical background has been primarily in musical theatre, working on Azad showed me that theatre isn’t all jazz hands (though jazz hands are certainly incredible). In Azad, theatre is used as a vessel to share Sona’s story and teach empathy. In addition to obtaining a BA in Theatre, I’m double majoring with Politics & International Affairs, so seeing theatre used alongside politics was an eye-opening experience for me.

As I entered the theatre for the read-through on Friday evening, I was completely unaware of the life-changing week on which I was about to embark. My leap of faith to get involved in an unfamiliar show taught me so much about workshops and professional theatre and introduced me to a group of brilliant artists who now mean so much to me. 

My advice to theatre students is to get involved with unique projects, even if you don’t know what to expect. You might end up getting to be part of a life-changing experience and making connections with people in the theatre industry.  


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