Behind the Scenes of the Fall Play

by Elie Doubleday

You’ve never seen a play like this one. Usually, when a play is in production, there is a specific layout for rehearsals. You start with a read-through. You do some warm-ups and acting games, mostly relating to how your character would move, how they would react to different situations, what they think about. Then the blocking and line memorization begins. The stage is built, props are accumulated, and costumes are designed and procured. Within however-many months, the play goes on.

Director Emily Stone has completely turned rehearsal life on its head. When the actors were informed they had landed a role, they were notified by an email telling them they were invited to join the Medea ensamble, but not telling them their specific role. To Emily, the cast of Medea is an ensemble, not two leading stars and a host of less important characters. Emily believes every role is crucial to the play.

We started our first rehearsal without a read-through anywhere in it. We discovered our roles, but in many cases, we still don’t know who’s saying what line. The total chorus is made up of 10 people, but the lines are written as though for one person. The role of Hecate/Nurse was given to both Aley B. ‘17 and Kailin C. ‘16 to play with and explore. Emily told us the script is open to editing. Lines can be added and cut as we, the actors, see fit. They can be doled out to whomever we think is best suited to say them, regardless of who is supposed to say them. In short, Emily is creative. She thinks outside the box.

Our rehearsals have been geared towards getting to know the space. Emily doesn’t want a “traditional” stage. Instead, our set is the Great Hall gone feral. We see feral as something “beautifully broken.” The word has dark and unsettling connotations: wild, dangerous, and likely to turn on you at any moment. We will turn the hall into something ‘belonging to the dead,’ using all areas: the balcony, the stairs, the entrance hall. We’re even considering using some classrooms. During rehearsals, we run around, we bang on walls, we jump on couches, climb the furbicles, sit on railings; generally just doing things we’re not supposed to do. We think about how we can use this space to fit our needs. How the positions of actors during different scenes will add different meanings.

We brainstorm themes in the play and how we want to portray them. We think about how we want the audience to perceive the characters. We discuss what questions we are raising within the play and we wonder where they’ll take us. We put together lists of ideas for costumes and lighting and set design, ideas for makeup and mood and character interaction. We come up with crazy ideas that would be fun to put into action, regardless of if they’re feasible or not. If you want to see our inspiration and other play related posts, here is our blog(!!!!):

Costuming is up in the air. There are so many ideas of what people could wear it’s overwhelming. A member of the production team said “we’re not talking about colors or fabrics, we’re talking about concepts. . . It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be big, and it’s going to be very shiny and very glittery. Cameron [Jack] called it ‘beautiful, but weird.’” She said it’s not super practical, because costume design needs something to be based on, but she’s been sketching concepts, and one thing is for sure: the golden, poison robe (come see the play if you want to know what this is!).

Actor’s feelings are all over the place, as the creative process is, for better or worse, difficult. Nathan C. ‘16 said that “the creative process on this show has been much different from past shows, and has been a definite adjustment for me as this is my 8th OES show. In the end though, I know it will all come together as it always does, and we’ll put on a good show.”  Kailin C. ‘16 agrees: “I think it’s going to be awesome; it’s going to be really cool and the whole concept of everything is great, but right now it’s a lot of concept and not a lot of structure. It’s gonna be this shiny beautiful production but at the same time there’s this real sense of grit. There’s a lot of very intentional thinking going it to it.”

As an audience for the play, be prepared to be immersed. Aley B. ‘17 is “really excited about the amount of audience interactivity” in the play, and Sydney R. ‘20 says “people are going to be infatuated with the dynamics of the show and the choreography; how everyone is always on stage,” (a real feat). Orlando P. ‘16, who’s new to the OES theater crew, says that “knowing the controversial topic of the play, I’m excited to see the influence it has among the OES community. I’m excited to see how it will all come together.” And Elise K. ‘17, his counterpart in the show, hopes that “people understand what we’re trying to do here; it’s an important conversation for our community to have about these themes. I hope people come see it. . . We’ve explored a lot of things/themes together.”

This production will be like no other performed here at OES, so you best be ready. Emily has brought a host of fresh ideas to the community and the end product will be altogether different from what you’re used to. Keep yourself updated with our tumblr, and be ready for more updates as our show gets closer!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s