A thought-provoking juxtaposition of tragedy and humor awaits those who attend the student-directed one act plays later this semester.
The performances, currently in the beginning stages of production and set to hit the Quilhot Black Box Theatre April 7, are the final projects for the students in Professor of Theatre George Angell’s yearlong, 400-level theatre class. Junior Dani Morey is directing Jean Anouilh’s “Antigone,” with sophomore Elena Creed overseeing George Bernard Shaw’s “The Man of Destiny.”
Angell said both “Antigone” and “The Man of Destiny” have a common theme: the use and abuse of personal, absolute power.
“One is a comedy and one is a tragedy, so you get to look at that idea through both lenses,” he said.
In the class, students have focused on directorial script analysis, history of directing, and personal and philosophical considerations of directing. Angell said he challenged Morey and Creed, the only two students in the class, to pick more adventuresome and considerable plays.
“I told them they could pick far more substantial shows, with more actors and bigger roles,” he said. “Because there are only two, we are going to put a lot more technical details behind it, and spend more money on sets and costumes.”
Angell said students will also design the costumes and sets, making these performances full-on student productions.
“They are going to be facing all sorts of problems, but that’s not something I can grade them on,” Angell said.
Morey is directing “Antigone,” French playwright Anouilh’s rewrite of Sophocles’ original Greek tragedy. Morey said that though this version is largely similar to the original, she hopes the play will leave the audience siding with both Antigone and Creon.
According to Morey, Anouilh wrote the play with a greater focus on character than on set design and stage direction, so she plans to keep the set minimalist and monochrome. She said she is looking forward to helping her own actors delve into dialogue and develop the character roles in the play.
“The characters are more fleshed out, and I am a very character-driven sort of person,” she said. “I’m more comfortable acting, but I am hoping to enjoy the directing process.”
Freshman Chandler Lasch will play Antigone, with sophomore Nikolai Dignoti as Creon, junior Eileen Thoma as Ismene, junior Mark Naida as Haemon, freshman Rebecca Carlson as Chorus, Anthony Peterson and Jessica MacFarlane as guards, and Maria Kearney as the page.
Morey said she is excited for the audience to experience the odd duo of strong wills and wits that the plays will provide.
“I don’t think we could have planned a better doubleheader,” Morey said.
Creed, a sophomore English and theatre major, is directing “The Man of Destiny,” which she described as a “novella for the theater.”
“Shaw is fantastic,” she said. “The humor that he uses is really intelligent, and it’s just a hysterical play.”
The crux of the play is a battle of wits between the young general Napoleon Bonaparte, played by sophomore James Young, and a lady, played by senior Megan Scott, who stole his dispatches. Other characters include a lieutenant and an innkeeper, played by freshmen Austin Benson and Dylan Strehle respectively.
Young said this is his first major role in college, and he is excited yet nervous for the challenge of a four-person show.
“It will be interesting to work with people who aren’t professors directing, and people of different experience levels,” he said.
“All of their interactions are well-written and fun to listen to and watch,” Creed said.
The plays will run April 7 – 9 in the Quilhot Black Box Theatre at the Sage Center for the Arts.