University of South Florida alumni returned to their old stomping grounds on Sunday for the Tampa Repertory Theatre’s production of “True West,” a comedy about two brothers arguing over a screenplay that could change their lives.
Screenplay director Megan Lamasney was excited to come back to her alma mater and showcase her work.
“I was an undergrad here in the theater department and it was cool to come back to home base and see where it started,” Lamasney said. “It was great bringing some exciting work here.”
Although Lamasney was excited for the project, actor Jack Holloway was rather nervous when asked to perform. Rather than sticking to one role, Holloway had to alternate roles between both brothers in the screenplay.
“I was terrified when Megan called me and told me about doing the roles and then switching every night,” Holloway said. “I had never done that before in terms of switching roles, so I was a bit nervous.”
Being back in the Theatre Arts Rehearsal Building brought back several memories for Holloway.
“It was wonderful, but it is strange because a part of the play is about coming back home and it feels like I don’t have to act that,” Holloway said. “It’s honestly surreal because you’re acting in a place where you grew up.”
On the other side of the play is actor Dan Granke, who is a performing arts professor at USF. Granke admitted that getting to perform and being able to teach students was a unique experience.
“This is home for me, this is where I work and it very much feels like home,” Granke said. “I have so many students who haven’t seen me perform, and it feels great to show them rather than just tell them.”
Granke worked constantly with Holloway to perfect the art of switching the roles each night and staying in character. While difficult, Granke enjoyed the challenge and said it comes with good parts.
“It’s a lot of fun because it’s a piece that has its hard moments, but it also has its comic moments. So getting to do both allowed you to feel like you’re not stuck to one role,” Granke said.
Granke moved to Tampa in 2013 to become a professor, meanwhile working with Holloway as an artistic director for the Tampa Shakespeare Festival.
“It was interesting because when I moved here three years ago, I was told that I have a doppelgänger,” Granke said. “We both love working together, Jack and I do comedy, stage combat and we’ve gotten close over the years.”
Aside from the great role and being able to perform in front of students, Granke said his first priority was and always is to entertain.
“I go out as an actor, I’m also a director and a fight director,” Granke said. He directs the combat onstage during scenes.“My goal is always to entertain people. I want to challenge people and just let people have a good time so they want to come back and see more.”
Granke holds theater performances close to his heart because in today’s age of digital streaming and technology, the art of live theater seems rare to him.
“Any time there’s a chance for live theater I think it’s great, and with everything becoming live streaming it’s kind of hard to appreciate it,” Granke said. “I just think theater is just one of those places where you can’t do it any other way.”