As part of the Festival’s mission and vision, each participating producer is being encouraged to find some creative medium for expression and exploration along the theme of the play. Lake Forest College, although the first production in the lineup, has set the bar high with a Presidential Portrait Gallery Exhibition involving the entire community.
This week, I spoke with Elizabeth Hyzy, one of the actors in the show and the project coordinator for the presidential-themed exhibition.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m a sophomore at Lake Forest College, majoring in English and theater. Along with theater, I am president of SNAP, a Writing Center tutor, and a school ambassador. I have been doing theater since sixth grade, but I have to say that I have never been this excited for a show.
Franklin D Roosevelt by Brittany Eude
What’s the “elevator speech” for this project?
The portrait gallery is a way to get the entire Lake Forest community involved with 44
Plays for 44 Presidents. We assigned canvases and presidents to student, faculty, and staff
volunteers. With the canvases, the artists can capture their assigned presidents in any way they please—weather it is through a traditionally painted portrait or an abstract collage. Since this show is about history and people, we want to give the community the chance to honor history independently and artistically.
James Monroe by Grant Alexander
What inspired the idea?
The Neo-Futurists (the original writers and performers of 44 Plays) have a Hall of Presidents in their Neo-Futurarium. With this in mind, Dennis Mae, the artistic director of our production, suggested that Lake Forest College do the same. He and Chloe Johnston, director of our production, wanted to create a presidential portrait gallery in Hixon and decided to invite the Lake Forest College community to join as artists.
Where will the portraits be displayed? How can others come view them?
The portraits will be hung in the lobby of Hixon Hall, where playgoers can view them before the show.
John F. Kennedy by Missy Sernatinger
I’m told you’re behind the whole operation – how has it been to be involved in managing this project?
My job has mainly been correspondence—emailing the artists to pick up and drop of their canvases and occasionally making deliveries—although I did work with Chloe on the initial plans and protocol. I love seeing how eager the community is to be involved with this project, and I’m looking forward to seeing these portraits!
I know you’re in the show too! How do you and the cast feel about being the production that officially kicks off the Festival?
The cast is so excited to kick off the Festival! Knowing that we are first in a national project is intimidating, but our energy and commitment for this show surpasses any nervousness. We love being part of a project that is bigger than ourselves.
Theodore Roosevelt by Elizabeth Hyzy
Tell me about your contribution.
I made a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, which is special to me because I play Alice Roosevelt in the play. Although I aimed to make the portrait identifiable, I used bold, abstract colors to capture Teddy’s passion for life.
What happens to the gallery after the show closes?
That’s a good question. I would like to know the answer too!
Obama at the White House by Ariana Bayiates
Any thoughts you’d like to share with producers and casts to come?
This show is challenging yet fulfilling and exciting because each cast member has so many roles to explore. This show has something for any audience member—humor, tragedy, music, fun historical facts—and teaches the audience that we, the people of the United States, control our country’s destiny. I hope the audience walks away feeling empowered and ready to continue to advance humanity.
44 Plays for 44 Presidents at Lake Forest College runs April 5-7 and 12-14 at 7:30pm.