Student Production of “The Frog Prince” Leaps into the Black Box


Published: October 25, 2007

FCLC—The White Box. The Black Box. Pope Auditorium. With three regularly used performance centers, Lincoln Center is the epicenter of theater for Fordham. Every studio production that graces these spaces is completely created by FCLC students themselves, with small budgets, small stage space and large creativity and ambition. The Observer had the chance to sit down with Sydney Painter, FCLC ’09, a theater directing major, to talk about her upcoming play, “The Frog Prince.”

The Observer: Can you give us the basic plotline of “The Frog Prince”?

Sydney Painter: A prince picks flowers for his fiancé in a part of the wood he’s never visited before. The witch asks for them, and when he won’t give them to her, she turns him into a frog. In the absence of its rightful heir, the kingdom falls into the wrong hands. The prince and his friends are forced into hiding, and they live as fugitives while he tries to break the curse. It’s a fairytale as

fairytales were meant to be: dark and scary.

The Observer: Is there any particular moment in the play that you enjoy the most?

SP: It isn’t always a fairytale. It starts off that way, but it pretty much falls apart by the end. It gets to a point where it can’t be a fairytale anymore, and I think that’s my favorite moment—when they have to give up on believing in a world that wants good things for them. They realize that they’re on their own. I ain’t saying where that moment is in the play. You should come find it for yourself.

The Observer: What is it like working with the cast of “The Frog Prince”?

SP: We get distracted a lot. The cast is a collection of funny people who like to laugh, so we get carried away just telling anecdotes and getting the giggles. Any show develops its inside jokes, and we have some winners.

The Observer: How difficult is it to direct one of Fordham’s Black Box plays?

SP: I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but it’s really non-stop. I’m thinking about my show every second. You have to. And also it wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t want to. It’s the kind of thing I like to get obsessed with. Sometimes it’s overwhelming because there are just so many things to keep track of. But I have a lot of help and support, and I care a lot about my project. Everyone works hard at their thing, don’t they? It’s just a matter of what you find rewarding. I would say I put in about 35 hours a week of actual work, not counting all the hours in class when I’m musing to myself about the show, and 35 hours is really not that much. Most of those are spent at rehearsal, and I’m not the only one who has to put in work outside that. A show is a lot of work for everyone involved.

The Observer: How do you see your career in directing continuing when you leave college?

SP: I think I would like to teach. People seem to think that’s what you retreat to if you don’t have the ambition for the cutthroat world of New York theater. Maybe I don’t. But I really like kids, and I really believe that theater is for everyone.

During the summer I work at a theater camp in my hometown in California, and it’s the best part of my year. The kids get to make something that’s really their own. You can see it lighting little fuses in their brains. Every year we see a few kids find what they love. If I could do that all the time, I’d be lucky indeed.

Of course I would love to have my own projects going as well. I think I’ll be happy as long as I’m involved. I love that Broadway is next door to me, but there are little theaters everywhere that people pour their whole hearts into. I’m more interested in a show’s heart than I am in its budget, and a show gets its heart from its people. A show needs people who will pour their hearts into it; that’s what makes it worth watching. An exploding set with elephants onstage is cool once. People pouring their hearts into something is cool every time. I want to be around that, wherever it is.