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Varner Act II Gala


Students Rehearsing; Photo courtesy of Crystal Orser


The theater here has a rich and powerful history, and is truly a pillar for the Oakland University community. On a Saturday night you can often hear the sounds of student and professional productions alike trickle from the doors of Varner hall and Meadowbrook theater, acting as a sirens call to passerby. I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with two of Oakland University’s very own students to discuss their recent production, the Varner Act 2 Gala.


The Varner Act 2 gala, a collective showcase paying tribute to the past 50 years of theater as shown in Oaklands Varner Hall, was an emotionally charged and delightful event. Sitting down with lighting designer Bex Papazian and Gavin Carcamo, who built and worked in set design for the main stage and the musicians stage, both were quite proud of the work they and their fellow performers put into the show, as well as Oaklands Theatre Program as a whole, as they rightly should be. Gavin recalled “watching the actors perform day and night, singing songs, showing hardwork and dedication (to their craft).”


According to the duo, the event, which doubled as a charity event for both the Trevor Project and our very own Music Theatre and Dance department, drew the support of many large alumni, including David Hasslehoff and Rob Benedict of Supernatural.


Both were very passionate and proud of the cultural significance of the theater. Both explained how theater was vital to the cultural blanket of our college.


“These shows carry history, they carry weight. History, movements, culture. Without theater, society would be so, so, so (redacted) depressing. People would be so bored. Theater helps you realize so many things about yourself, about your family and friends, politics and culture. Your mental health and sexuality. Theater is a godsend.”

The theater program is a necessity to college culture. It offers a sense of community, a place to reinvent yourself, a place of discovery. And Varner Act 2 Gala really served to highlight the rich and detailed tapestry of Oakland University Theater. Gavin truly summarized it best:


“(Theater is) an open society. You walk in, not knowing what you’re getting into, and you leave fulfilled. You leave happy, you leave sad. Theater is tragedy. Theater is devastating. You go with high hopes, and you leave devastated. And the thing about devastation is, there is something nice about being truly devastated.”

Varner Act 2 Gala is one of the many strands in our great golden tapestry, helping pave the way for students and community members alike to come and get a taste of the unique and moving experience of Oakland University.


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