Pinnacle Productions releases mainstage theme

Fall season revolves around three stories of survival


Written By Hattie Charney, Co-Features Editor

Oakland basements and tiny classrooms have housed the many unique productions courtesy of Pinnacle Productions.

Pinnacle Productions, a student-run theater company, gives students the opportunity to direct, design, perform and stage manage their own shows.

“I think there’s a connotation that it’s only for people in COPA but it’s open to anyone that wants to be involved,” Jacob Wasson, senior musical theater major said. “It started because there was a frustration that a lot of students weren’t able to be cast on the main stage so they started developing their own art.”

Pinnacle’s slogan for this year is “Big Bang, No Buck!” Wasson explains their slogan as a tribute to the hard work that is put in each year by the students.

“Some of the best theatre I’ve seen in my life has just been Pinnacle shows in tiny classrooms with absolutely no money,” Wasson said. “It’s just a bunch of people pouring their hearts into these productions.”

This 2018-19 mainstage season is adopting the theme of the stories of survival. “Mysterious Skin”, “Bent” and “Lord of the Flies” are all directed by Point Park students are three mainstage productions.

“I think that it really connects to the students right now these stories are about people that overcame a lot of trauma,” Wasson said.

“Mysterious Skin”, based on the 1995 novel by Scott Heim, is directed by senior cinema production major Drew Praskovich.

Praskovich describes “Mysterious Skin” as, “two people with very different lives. One is a kid in Kansas who is obsessed with UFO’s and the other is a hustler in New York who’s just making very poor choices and then through their stories we see how their pasts are interconnected through this really dark tragedy.”

“Mysterious Skin” tackles the topics of sexual assault, which is prevalent in our society.

“’Mysterious Skin’ works incredibly well in the ‘MeToo’ movement that we’re doing right now,” Wasson said. “It’s a story of two survivors of sexual assault.”

Praskovich mirrors Wasson’s beliefs on the way “Mysterious Skin” approaches the topic of sexual assault. “Since it is such a serious subject matter, especially with the climate of where we are and the conversation about sexual abuse, trauma and things like that, navigating it in a way that it’s healing and evocative without being exploitive to people who may have experienced it or people who are just coming to this head-on for the first time.”

While in the process of adapting the movie into a play, Praskovich found out someone had already written his adaptation.

“It’s actually interesting when I first found out about the play version I was actually trying to write the play version,” Praskovich said.

The inspiration behind directing this particular show came from his love for the movie. He first saw it in high school and his love for filmmaking combined with the ambition to direct led to his debut.

As a cinema production major, it is not traditional for Praskovich to be directing. He says it is “new and exciting territory” for him to be involved in. His cinema past will contribute to how he will take what he has learned and incorporate it into how he directs.

“It’s going to be the first play that I’ve ever directed so I’m definitely anxious about that,” Praskovich said.

Wasson is directing “Bent”, which he describes as being a relevant piece of art in this political climate. It focuses on the gay genocides taking place in a Nazi Germany. In European countries during the 1930’s and 1940’s ‘bent’ refers to the gay community.

“It’s incredibly relevant still, there is still genocides against minorities all around the world that we are completely indifferent to,” Wasson explains.

Senior BA theater performance and practice major and musical theater minor, Elena Lazaro, is taking the stage adaptation of “Lord of the Flies” and making it her own by incorporating every gender.

“’Lord of the Flies’ came out because it’s another story like ‘Twelve Angry Men’, which I directed last year,” Lazaro said. “Where I read it when I was in high school and really wanted to like it and connect to it but I couldn’t because there were no women.”

Lazaro made it her own stage adaptation by pulling certain elements from the book and added it to the already existing stage adaptation. Pulling the verbal imageries that she thought were important created an overall image for the piece.

Pinnacle Productions has been on campus since 2010 and are becoming a larger presence on campus through their mainstage shows as well as their “Pop-Up Pinnacle” shows which will take place throughout the fall and spring semesters.

“They do not have a formal budget and it’s more for thinking outside of the box,” Wasson explains about Pop-Up Pinnacle. “It’s not necessarily straight plays, it’s for cabarets and benefits and there is some devised and original works that are going to happen, some concerts.”

The three shows chosen for this season are challenging shows that will be ambitious to take on. Each show has around three weeks to rehearse and then put on in various venues ranging from Lawrence Hall classrooms to basements in Oakland.

“I think there is even greater effort put into it because it is completely the property of the students and there is no limitation there is no what’s good what’s bad, it’s going to the extreme of their creativity and you can always see that in every single one of these pinnacle shows,” Wasson said. “It’s incredibly exciting and there’s absolutely no money.”

“Mysterious Skin” will show from Oct. 6 to 8. “Bent” will show from Nov. 10 to 12. “Lord of the Flies” will show from Dec. 1 to 3.