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The Indiana Daily Student

arts theater

University Players talk student theater, upcoming production of ‘Sweeney Todd’


University Players, a student-run theater company here at IU, will be presenting a number of events this semester. Alongside their well-known cabarets, the company will also be premiering a unique take on a classic musical; "Sweeney Todd." 

UPis IU’s undergraduate-run theater company. From directing to acting to design, students take care of all aspects of the productions, with only a few faculty members to help them out along the way. 

As a company, they aim to offer a space for students to learn and develop theatrical experience, no matter how much previous experience they may have. According to the University Players website, they aim to create accessible theater to all, not just to participate but to watch. For this reason, all show tickets are free.  

As a student-run company, they face the challenges of obtaining rehearsal and performance space, but also offer a unique experience for students.  

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“Because you are working with your peers all the time, people feel really comfortable to make mistakes,” senior Kate Glaser, the artistic director, said. “It offers a learning environment for those who want to take on a new aspect of theater.” 

Similarly, senior Hannah Kulawiak, director of the upcoming production of “Sweeney Todd,” said, “You have that comradery that we are all here for the same thing, we’re all a team."

With admission to shows being free, the question of funding arises. With help from a Director of Development on their board, the company can apply for grants and take care of the majority of the costs. Other funding comes from fundraisers set up through the company themselves. Aside from the typical social media fundraiser or emails to alumni, UP also puts on cabarets.  

The cabarets are informal events put on, often in theme with the upcoming show. The upcoming cabaret will take place at 8 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.  

“It will be a night of song, celebrating the life and work of Steven Sondheim,” as stated on the University Players website.  

Although the deadline to sign up to sing has passed, anyone can still attend the event to get lost in a night of music.   

Aside from the cabaret, UP is working on their production of “Sweeney Todd.”  

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Directed by Kulawiak, the production takes a twist on the average tale. Typically, the character of Sweeney Todd and many others are played and portrayed as men, but this cast is entirely composed of women and non-binary students, aside from the character of Judge Turpin.  

“A lot of people see Sweeney Todd as this evil figure, which morally speaking he is,” Kulawiak said. “But I have found in my interpretation of the script that the real evil of the story is Judge Turpin and his abuse of power.”  

Kulawiak is working to bring out the vision that Sweeney Todd is not really a villain but is only driven to be a villain by the circumstances that have been placed upon him. By making the character a woman, it brings out themes of feminine rage and portraying a woman who is taking back power even though it is morally ambiguous.  

“Sweeney Todd” will be taking place from Feb. 10-11. Tickets will go on sale Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. on the University Players website.

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