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Piecing together a cast

Aspiring actresses gather at the Stephens College campus for a chance at short film stardom in “Pieces Parts”
Monday, July 9, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:37 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Rajvir Singh, left, was one of dozens of women who auditioned Sunday at Stephens College for a part in the coming short film “Pieces Parts.” Producer Paula Elias, center, and writer Rosanne Welch will make the film this summer at the college’s Summer Film Institute.

Whether armed with head shots and resumes, or simply coming on a lark, nearly 40 hopefuls trickled through Stephens College’s Helis Communications Center on Sunday afternoon to audition for roles in an original short film, “Pieces Parts.”

The film, written by Rosanne Welch and directed by Jennifer Wynne Farmer, will be created during this year’s Stephens Summer Film Institute.

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The project, which will star “The Office” and “West Wing” actress Susie Geiser, is based on the true story of a Los Angeles art teacher who helped young, at-risk women piece their lives back together through the art of mosaic.

Welch, who wrote for television shows including “Picket Fences” and “Touched by an Angel,” discovered the story while interviewing women for her alumni magazine.

“The idea stuck in my head. That’s an interesting woman who is accomplishing something in her life,” she said.

Welch said women in film too often play the role of a love interest or sidekick.

“We don’t do a lot of investigating women’s lives and the complexities of them,” she said.

The prospect of changing that drew a diverse group of women with varying levels of experience.

Leila Leija, 18, auditioned for the role of Jacqui, a teenage girl who witnesses the slaying of her gang-affiliated boyfriend. She said she funded the trip by working at a neighbor’s construction company in her hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., and by getting a little help from her mother.

The Karn sisters, Kay (Karn) Wood and Irene Karn, came on the spur of the moment. Coming out to audition was “strictly frivolity,” said Irene, who was coaxed into auditioning by her sister. Neither woman had any prior experience in theater, so they opted to audition for the roles that suited them best. Practicing attorney Irene auditioned for the part of the judge, while retired Harvard professor Kay auditioned for the part of, well, the professor.

“We didn’t have anything better to do,” Irene said, laughing.

Vicki Staub, 63, said she also came out to audition on a whim. Staub had limited experience in theater in her high school days, but she decided to try out after reading about the audition in the paper.

“It looked like it could be fun and I thought, ‘I want to do this,’” Staub said. “I encourage people to try things they’ve never tried before.”

Once filming has wrapped up, Welch said she plans to take the project to film festivals and see if it generates enough interest to be expanded to a feature-length piece.


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