March plays bring drama and gossip to the stage

by | March 7, 2017 | in Arts | No Comments

Grey clouds, silver puddles and green hills. After this winter, many of us may associate this scene with California. However, the true home of this landscape is across the pond.

On March 9-12, the Advanced Acting class will transport audiences to the lush landscape of Britain and Ireland in “The Clearing” and “Sense and Sensibility.” The two plays will be shown at 7:30 p.m. each night in the Alan Harvey Theater.

“Sense and Sensibility” will be playing March 9 and 11. Originally a Jane Austen novel, the plot revolves around two sisters trying to navigate love and friendship amidst the gossiped-fueled high society of 18th century England.

“Lots of people who don’t get Jane Austen’s satire and wit think it’s long, boring, dull and dry. However, this play is anything but that,” said senior Josef Crombie Presberg, who will play the part of Sir John Middleton, a distant relation of the sisters. “It’s energetic, ridiculous, crazy and chaotic, while still holding true to the themes and conflicts of the book.”

The practical-minded Elinor Dashwood is to be played by senior Char Nakashima-Conway, and her foil, energetic Marianne Dashwood, will be enacted by junior Olivia Adams.

The play is true to tradition in that it revolves around the two sisters’ journey to find love, but it also has a modern twist with creative movement scenes and blocking, Adams said.

“It’s both widely comedic and confusing at times with rolling chairs and crazy blocking, while also having scenes where you care about what the people think, and the relationships,” Crombie Presberg said.

Audiences should be prepared for a wild variety of scenes, as almost every scene involves the whole cast and some sort of prop in the form of chairs or walls. The transitions between poignant scenes and choreographed ensemble scenes are what make the play interesting, Crombie Presberg said.IMG_9514

“It’s overwhelming because there is so much movement, you have to be ok with not knowing how everything will go at every single second,” said Adams. “You have to be ok with trusting your castmates.”

Another quirky aspect of the play is the character of Gossip, played intermittently by various cast members. The flitting lines uttered by the Gossip character are meant to represent the societal atmosphere of the time and the blurring of the line between true and false, Adams said.

“[The play] is anything but orthodox in a world where being orthodox and adhering to the strict societal obligations is necessary,” Crombie Presberg said.

“The Clearing,” in contrast to the whimsical spirit of “Sense and Sensibility,” assumes a more dramatic and ominous tone, senior Cole Bloomfield said.

“The Clearing” will be presented on the evenings of March 10 and 12. The play recounts how English Protestant forces violently evicted Irish settlers and English sympathizers from their homes to make room for English settlers during Oliver Cromwell’s rule in the 17th century.

The story revolves around a couple: the English Robert Preston, played by senior Grady Wetherbee, and the Irish Madeleine Preston, played by senior Caroline Dunlap, whose relationship slowly unravels as the events unfold.

“The overall mood of the play is conflicted,” said Bloomfield, who portrays the part of Lord Sturman, the English governor. “There are lots of conflicts between people, there are internal conflicts, obviously there is the English-Irish conflict, and I would say a lot of trying situations in terms of how you balance personal motives with the relationships that you have.”

A challenge for the cast was to keep a relaxed tone during rehearsal and not get too absorbed with their characters’ troubles, Bloomfield said.

Alongside an emphasis on acting, the cast has also found ways to add creative twists to the play. One such twist is an introductory movement scene that sets up the conflicts and relationships present in the remainder of the play.

“We wanted a way to clearly show relationships and differences between the groups,” said castmember, junior Alec Opdyke.

To further highlight disparities, background music and sound effects will be provided by junior TH Williamson on drums, and Jakob Armstrong on bass guitar, Bloomfield said.