Nothing to fear at FASS 2016

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FASS 2016 was not for the faint-hearted. From <em>The Ghost of the Murdered Groom</em> that haunts the Hagey Theatre to the <em>Flying Spaghetti Monster</em>, FASS tickled more than just our funny bones, and touched upon many things that terrify students: getting lost in the maze that is PAS, notorious Wind&nbsp; Mobile connections (or lack thereof), and Scantron mishaps.&nbsp;</p>

FASS (Faculty, Alumni, Students and Staff) is an amateur theatre company at the University of Waterloo and has been a long standing tradition on campus for over 50 years, providing the UW community with entertaining self-written theatre. FASS produces a full-length theatrical production based on a unique theme and script every year, and attempts to integrate something new and challenging to test the team’s abilities. 

FASS 2016 had the theme of haunted theatre: Who’s Afraid of the FASS?. It presented a modern take on classic myths and legends centered around the theatre. It took place at the Humanities Theatre stage Feb 4-6, and offered hilarious musical numbers through parodies of popular songs, such as “This is Haunted FASS” (“This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas) to “Countdown Funk” (“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars) and ending with “Shut up and FASS With Me” (“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon). It boasted a live band, side-splitting jokes about student life at UW, an impressive set and costumes, and amusing characters such as Frat Boy Hades and the Co-op Pirates. 

Julia Sturgeon played six different roles this year. Participating in FASS since 2013, she said that it “just keeps getting better and better.” 

“FASS brings some really talented people together, from amazing script writers, to vocal coaches, to fight choreographers, to people with the creative talent to put on the show, both on and behind the stage,” she said.

This year, FASS took on quite a few challenges. Tristan Mills, the producer of FASS who is also involved with advertising and communication, highlighted some of the challenges: 

“Our band this year was more ambitious than ever, taking on more songs and bizarre key signatures. We also had a number of technical challenges, such as creating stage-wide moving waves out of wood, and large cardboard ships. There was also a falling chandelier, a ‘must’ in a comedy about haunted theatre. I have only been involved in FASS for so long, but this year stands out in my mind as the most technically challenging.”

The production process takes place over the course of five weeks, between January and February, and generally follows the same schedule every year. The FASS Annual General Meeting is held in April, in which members of the FASS executive team are elected. A theme is chosen and a chief scriptwriter is elected to coordinate the writing of the script. Auditions take place during the first week of classes in the winter term, and everyone who auditions and wants a part on stage gets one. Due to this, scripts are sometimes adjusted to accommodate more or fewer people. Once castings are complete, the FASS team has a number of weeks to pull the show together. 

“During that time, the actors learn all of their lines, blocking on stage, lyrics to songs, and choreography for those songs. We have a live band, and they only have a short time to learn the ridiculous number of songs in the show ­— I think this year, it was 18 scenes or something silly. The technicians also spend their weekends of those three weeks building all of our set pieces, props, costumes, lights, and sound. All of the members of the company are volunteers who put their time, effort, and heart into putting on a great show,” Sturgeon said.

But it isn’t all work and no play. The company gets together for parties during the year, a camping trip in August, and a few get-togethers in between, such as a Halloween party and a Solstice tea party. 

With its diverse composition of different people from campus, FASS gives you a chance to mingle with different people outside of your faculty, as it did for Sturgeon. 

“I was in the math faculty at UW, and I hadn’t really met anyone outside of my faculty before joining FASS. After joining FASS, I realized that I got to meet some pretty incredible people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to interact with otherwise. I met my current boyfriend and many of my very good friends because of FASS. There are members of FASS who have been doing it for decades, so learning from their experience is great. Having faculty members in the cast (because without faculty, we would be the ASS theatre company) is a really cool way to get to know professors outside of the classroom.”

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