The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Edgy students enact Rent

Grinnell’s Independent Musical Productions (GIMP) is opening this season in high fashion by producing the Broadway sensation “RENT.” A story often avoided on conservative college campuses due to its controversial content, “RENT” will be shown in Bucksbaum on Nov. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and the Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.
Deborah Berk ’12, the voice of GIMP, arrived at the decision to show “RENT” this fall with the help of her mother this past summer.
“People don’t put on “RENT” that often because it has a lot of homosexuality, AIDS and young people dying. I thought Grinnell would be perfect, because [sexual diversity] is embraced,” Berk said.
While all the performers, from the eight actors to the ten singers are equally capable, their familiarity with the play is even more impressive. “I enjoyed the movie and thought I was never going to be able to see the musical—I thought it would be fun [to be in],” said actor Konnor Clark ’11.
Enthusiasm for the production is central both to Berk and the cast. “For me passion is eighty percent of the performance. [I looked for] People who really wanted to be in ‘RENT’…” said Berk.
One of Berk’s most important roles as director of GIMP is organizing the auditioning process. “I was looking for strong vocalists [who had] familiarity with the show,” said Berk. “We were working on a very tight time frame and since ninety percent of the show was sung, I quite frankly didn’t have the time or inclination to teach people the songs from scratch.”
The musical pieces in “RENT” are essential in conveying the issues it tackles through the struggles and successes of each character. “I love the music and the chance to perform it was what really made me want to audition,” said Peter Edberg ’11.
Edberg will have plenty of opportunity. One of Berk’s philosophies in directing is to “go big or go home,” and to not “pussyfoot around,” she said. According to Berk, a certain bravery is essential as “RENT” has relatively challenging songs and covers many issues and tense moments that can be difficult to fully capture.
“I hope that this show will have people talking more about GIMP…I want GIMP to become a really active part of the theater department,” Berk said.
Beyond the goals for GIMP as a whole, Berk also stressed the iconic nature of the production. “I want the performers to think back on this performance proudly and say I was Roger or I was Angel,” Berk said.

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