Oops, they did it again

By Gus Bode

Oops Entertainment, back and active, works to send a message

Factoid:”Before it Hits Home” opens Nov. 21. For more information on Oops Entertainment, contact Teresa McKinley at 453-6973.

The atmosphere floats through the room like the gray clouds steadily aligning outdoors. It seems to affect everyone in the vicinity, making them unaware of the declining temperatures in the Morris Library basement accompanied by the cold Saturday afternoon.

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They had just practiced yesterday, and they’ll practice again tomorrow. It’s crunch time and this acting troupe is aware of it.

Oops Entertainment President LaQuesha Harris calls for silence. It’s time to work and work hard – the theatrical production “Before it Hits Home” opens in less than a month.

The actors begin to scatter, some scooting on stage to work on their characters, others moving to the edge of the room, knowing full well nothing will be accomplished if they remain a group seated in the center.

They are surrounded by seriousness, but somehow, the actors manage to incorporate their own silliness into the air.

“Sometimes you just need to be goofy,” Nikita Floore said as she laughs with her friends. However, when it comes down to it, the members of Oops Entertainment know how to work.

This is the group’s most difficult project in years. “Before it Hits Home” is the first full-length play the acting troupe has produced in at least three years, and most of the members are first year group members, or even first-time actors.

“They’re learning what it is to be an actor,” said faculty adviser Teresa McKinley. “Real acting is not just saying lines, it’s your movement, your facial expressions, it’s everything.”

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Working together in excess of nine hours each week, and with countless hours tallied outside of rehearsal, McKinley said she could not ask for a more devoted and enthusiastic group.

“The students are incredibly dedicated,” said faculty adviser Teresa McKinley. “They come in every weekend – every Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday, and this shows in the product.”

Students involved with the acting troupe have the opportunity to expand their horizons with directing, acting, play writing, and more through an outlet outside of the administration, which Harris said is an important feature of Oops Entertainment.

Students have the chance to play different roles in the production of the play, which Harris says is important for resumes. Although the group is just a small acting troupe, the experience is still important.

“When you participate in something like this, you’re broadening your perspectives and experiencing the process in various roles,” said freshman Derek Sims.

The English major intends to become a playwright or novelist, and intends to use this experience to enhance his abilities.

Although Oops Entertainment has been around since1996, the group has been essentially inactive since former faculty adviser Brenda Major left, but even then was only known to do short skits and scenes.

Harris, a senior in theater from East St. Louis, said McKinley, who took over last fall, has taken Oops Entertainment up a notch, providing more opportunities for minority students.

McKinley said several students came to her seeking an organization that would open opportunities for minority students in theater. Her daughter, a former SIUC student, informed her of an organization, formed several years before, that was created on the same foundation she sought.

“We’re rebuilding this organization from the ground up,” Harris said.

She said their performance last spring brought a commanding crowd that she expects to grow as the group’s name spreads.

Oops Entertainment had been active on the platform of community awareness provided by the minority, and McKinley keeps this tradition alive. Last spring, the group performed, “Day of Absence,” aimed at stereotypes, while “Before it Hits Home” promotes AIDS awareness.

McKinley said it is important for the troupe to address those issues, which, though they affect the global community, have a larger impact on the campus’ black population.

“With this play, we want to make people aware that it’s not just who you lay down with, it’s who, when and what,” Harris said. “Your actions affect the whole community, the school, and your family.”

This year, Oops Entertainment expanded to include a dance troupe, which is currently in the organization process. McKinley said the group plans to begin performing in the spring, and will participate in the acting troupe’s next production, “West Side Story.”

The group had even organized a “Say What Karaoke” event that was recently cancelled.

“We just had too much on our plate,” McKinley said. “We’re doing too much and we had to eliminate something.”

In all projects Oops Entertainment takes on, McKinley said she intends to utilize the group’s dedication and friendliness in each performance.

“We want to be here,” Floore said. “We look forward to coming here each rehearsal.”

Floore said that the fun environment is what makes Oops Entertainment a good place to work. The group is progressing with “Before it Hits Home,” but they are also taking the time to enjoy the play-making process.

“We’re about having fun, but we’re also about the message,” Harris said.

Reporter Katie A. Davis can be reached at [email protected]

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