Heads Up Productions Critically Engages Audience

The theater company Heads Up Productions is verily turning heads with their thought-provoking shows.

Heads Up Productions is a theater company based in Akron, Ohio. The company began from the combined dream of Benjamin Rexroad, the company’s Artistic Director, and TJ Jozsa, the Assistant Artistic Director of the company and Mount Union student. Heads Up Productions’ mission is “to engage the Akron community in dialogues about diversity and social issues through dynamic live performances,” as is stated on their website.

“We really believe in the power of the audience and their imagination,” said Jozsa, a senior Political Science major and Pre-Law minor at Mount Union. He describes the typical theater set as extremely elaborate and detailed.  Heads Up would rather have the audience fill in the blanks with the sets and costumes, allowing the audience to have a more fulfilling and involved theater experience. “It might look really nice, but you’re limiting the audience,” he added. “We have simple sets, simple costumes. That way, you watch and the audience puts whatever association they want with it.”

The shows performed at Heads Up have truly shaped the company into what it is. “Heads Up is really about dynamic choices,” said Jozsa, “dynamic interactions with the audience and really making a strong political statement.” Their purpose in a show is to point out ideas and concepts that people are missing in the current society and news media.

Jozsa noticed through his theater experience and studies in political science that the two topics actually go hand in hand. “What I found is that there is so much that interconnects theater and political science,” he said. “With every statement and metaphor on stage, there’s always something political behind it.”

“1,000 Hills” is a play written by India Burton, a company member, playwright and director at Heads Up, about the Rwandan Genocide. According to their website, the show tells the story of three tourists who get tangled in the chaos of Rwanda. Hitting the stage in October 2010, “1,000 Hills” pushed the audience’s imagination. Roles were switched. Caucasian actors played African American characters and vice versa.  Young people portrayed old. This is just one of their politically-charged shows.

Another statement performance, “Corpus Christi,” begins Easter weekend. Jozsa described the show as such: “It takes place in present day Corpus Christi, Texas. It follows Jesus and his disciples, only they’re all gay in the show.” Jozsa acknowledged that this aspect of the play may upset some people, which is not the goal of Heads Up. He says their goal is to make the audience think. “The thing is,” Jozsa continued to explain, “it’s not really about gay Jews. It’s about loving everyone how you would love your neighbor kind of thing.”

The controversial show written by Terrence McNally and directed by Benjamin Rexroad begins April 21, 2011 and runs until April 23.

-Amanda Cirone
Mount Union Dynamo

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