5/3/13 ASHLAND, Ohio - When the performers and crew on the Hugo Young Theatre stage at Ashland University took their final bows April 14, they knew it was the end of a chapter of their lives. For most, there would always be the next show at AU, but for Aaron Arnold, it was the end of the AU chapter of his life.
Arnold, a senior theatre major from Chardon Ohio, is the son of William and Laura Arnold and he has been acting at AU since his freshmen year. In April, he co-starred in the two man show “A Life in the Theatre” by David Mamet alongside AU theatre professor and mentor, Ric Goodwin. It was Goodwin’s last show at AU as well, since May would mark the beginning of his retirement.
“A Life in the Theatre” is a show about a young actor, played by Arnold, and a veteran actor, played by Goodwin, and the relationship they share with each other and the theatre.
“It was a really cool experience. There were no weak links in this play. Once we got the lines memorized we could experiment however we wanted. It was a really creative atmosphere,” Arnold said. “Unlike other shows, there was a lot of one-on-one attention in this show,” Arnold said. “Since there are only two actors, you are always getting feedback.”
Arnold said working with Goodwin for the past four years has really prepared him for his future, which involves a move to Los Angeles with his brother, Austin Arnold, to pursue careers as actors.
“Working on these shows have given me a lot of discipline,” Aaron Arnold said. “It prepares you for a whole new level of play. The role also looks really great on a resume.”
Arnold also has been a four-year member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and has acted in several other non-AU productions.
“I have so many good memories to take away from Ashland and the theatre department,” Arnold said. “This show and all the others have made me better and better and it will be really useful in the future.”
The director of the “A Life in the Theatre” show, Nathaniel Sayatovich, is also a senior graduating this May and has been working with Goodwin and Arnold since he was a freshman.
While acting in a theatre production has an entire set of challenges, directing those actors has another. For Sayatovich, a senior education major from McConnellsville, Ohio, those challenges have to be met and surpassed in order to put together a good show.
“It’s (A Life in the Theatre) a unique show because it is so metaphysical and very minimalistic,” Sayatovich said. “It presents all kinds of challenges for the actors but also for the director.”
Sayatovich, who is the son of Terry and Vicki Sayatovich of McConnellsville, said that the rapid set changes in the show were the biggest challenge to overcome and require some unconventional thinking. Rather than build detailed sets, like the show had when it was on Broadway, they stripped the show down to two chairs and two black boxes to cut down on transitions and to allow the audience to use more of their imagination.
“I had a professor that once said, ‘you need to trust in the imagination of your audience and trust that they will go with you’ and thankfully, they did,” Sayatovich said. The boxes would serve as a variety of props and required the actors to be creative with their performances.
Over their four years together, Sayatovich, Arnold and Goodwin have built a great working relationship even though their positions and roles might change. The three have worked together in other shows such as “Equus,” “Whistle Down the Wind” and “Of Mice and Men” in which Sayatovich starred as Lenny.
“Working with Aaron and Ric on this show was fantastic,” Sayatovich said. “The playwright, David Mamet, writes with a specific tempo and for a lot of actors that would be a huge challenge but Aaron and Ric found it very quickly. There were moments when I could not tell if Aaron and Ric were talking or if their characters were talking, and that is a special thing.”
Since both Sayatovich and Arnold are graduating and Goodwin is retiring, this was the last play that the trio was able to work together.
“The three of us have a wonderful relationship. Aaron and I have been friends for years and Ric has been my professor and mentor since I started here,” Sayatovich said. Sayatovich plans to pursue a career as a theatre teacher after graduation.
“A Life in the Theatre” may be a show about transitions between actors but for Sayatovich, it’s a transition into a new phase of life. “There’s no such thing as a perfect show, but this was the perfect show to end on,” he said.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###
Written by Glenn Battishill, editor of The Collegian
(top photo) Student Aaron Arnold and Professor Ric Goodwin perform in the two-man show "A Life in the Theatre." It was the last AU show for both men.
(bottom photo) Nathaniel Sayatovich, also a graduating senior, poses with theatre professor Ric Goodwin. Sayatovich directed "A Life in the Theatre."