After revamping the show that began in 2009, one Penn State production is hoping students pay attention — in a big way.
Students and staff involved in the ongoing sitcom “304” are working hard with the hope of producing a YouTube sensation for the Penn State community.
Matthew Toronto, the show’s producing adviser and an assistant professor of theatre, said the show is a collaboration between the College of Communications and the School of Theatre.
“It’s about three guys who live together and are starting their own cookie delivery business,” Elizabeth Kline, the show’s head lighting designer, said. “It follows them through their process and it is also largely about their relationships.”
Toronto said the concept that will drive the show into the future is that the characters live in apartment ‘304” — as real students start to graduate, new students can move into the apartment and the series can continue.
A class called the Writer’s Room, taught by David Higgins, generates the storyline and script.
Kline (senior-lighting design) said that the show was revamped last year with a whole new direction and cast.
“As we get the show up and running, we’re trying to pass more and more of the responsibility onto the students so that they are getting real world experience working on a sitcom set and in television,” Toronto said.
Stephanie Cowan, who plays “Holly” on the show, said that everyone is able to learn together, which is important in creating a positive educational environment for the people involved.
“We don’t always get exposed to film,” Cowan (junior-musical theatre) said. “I like having this as an opportunity because it allows us to figure out if we like film, musicals or plays better.”
Cowan said she found it difficult to adapt to a few aspects of sitcom because of the differences from theater in the style of acting that is required.
“For me, it’s been a challenge because I love being a character. I’m always moving my face and sometimes I move it too much for the camera because it looks like I’m putting on something instead of being truthful,” Cowan said.
Kline said that “304” is one of the most collaborative projects she works on. She said it differs from theater in the respect that she does not work alone or have final say on the lighting for the show.
“We are constantly checking in with one another to make sure everything is fluid and works together,” Kline said.
Toronto said that the cast and crew have a lot of fun together in the studio shooting and rehearsing, but also work hard to produce a funny show that people will enjoy.
Alyssa Timoteo, a student working on the show, said she hopes “304” becomes a viral hit on campus.
“That would be so cool if the whole campus went on to YouTube every week to watch something,” Timoteo (senior-film) said. “It would be neat to be able to do something like that, but I think that ultimately depends upon the quality of the show.”