Seniors studios explore choice, identity, love

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Linda Smith, Staff Writer

 

Senior drama majors Kelly Anderson, Nick Catanese, Skyler Patton and Clarissa Jugo have been working on their senior studio plays for most of the semester. They have cast and directed them, and in culmination, the plays will be performed on May 1-4.

Anderson performed the rare feat of adapting a play herself, based on “Dr. Faustus,” by Christopher Marlowe and “The Tempest,” by William Shakespeare.

“I was fascinated by the fact that the story of Dr. Faustus and the story of Prospero are remarkably similar — except that one play is a comedy, and the other is a tragedy,” Anderson said. “So really the play is about that difference: about the way that one choice changes man’s life — makes it tragedy, or comedy. I fell in love with the fact that in both plays, though one man ends tragically and the other ends well, both men get exactly what they choose.”

From left, Gregory Frisby as Dr.  Faustus, Amir Razavi as Mephistopheles, Zeina Masri as Ariel and Justin Blan as Prospero in “These Heavenly Lines” -Photo by Rebecca Rosen
From left, Gregory Frisby as Dr. Faustus, Amir Razavi as Mephistopheles, Zeina Masri as Ariel and Justin Blan as Prospero in “These Heavenly Lines”
-Photo by Rebecca Rosen

Anderson feels that the theme of choice makes this play something that the audience will relate with easily.

“This show is about what you believe you can’t give up, but have to — it’s about the choices we all make every day,” Anderson said. “It is about the fact that we choose our story’s end, good or bad. And I think that is something extremely relevant to every day and age.”

Catanese is directing “Red Carnations,” written by Glenn Hughes in 1927. Catanese describes the play as “short, clear and funny,” which is also what he tries to be, noting that he has “found himself” in the play. The premise is that of a boy, a girl and a man engaging in an interesting series of circumstances near a park bench.

“It’s been a gift, really,” Catanese said. “We’re all on this rollercoaster together, and I think that helps ease the actors to let loose. I’m not there to judge their performance, I’m there to help guide them into exploring the world that will result in a true performance.”

When asked why people should see the play, Catanese began with: “To laugh and relate to the awkwardness of blind dates and young love. Plus, it’s only fifteen minutes, which is shorter than most TV episodes, so why not watch something that is real and just as funny, if not more so?”

Patton will be directing Edward Albee’s “Marriage Play,” which she describes as “a tragically vicious love story in which a middle-aged couple must leave behind their childish games in order to face the reality of their crumbling marriage for the first time as adults.” Albee’s “firecracker wit and intellectual sparring,” and his influence as “one of the greatest living playwrights,” helped Patton pick this play.

“People should see ‘Marriage Play’ because it is about how dangerous and detrimental it is to hide yourself from the ones you love,” Patton said. “Jack and Gillian have spent thirty years of their marriage essentially ‘playing at’ being married, never revealing their deepest insecurities and concerns with each other. Rather, they choose to put up walls around themselves made up of the people they pretend to be and brandish their words like swords. In the end, this is no way to live, especially no way to live with someone you love. But what comes out when you try to bring down the walls that have been fortified for thirty years? And can the damages inflicted upon each other over that time be healed and repaired?”

Clarissa Jugo’s discovery of Beth Henley’s “Am I Blue” was “a happy accident” in the excruciating process of choosing her play.

“I fell in love with the language, the characters and the world,” Jugo said. “It was so clear that amidst all of the American, domestic dramas that I was reading, this was the play that resonated with me the most, and I knew it was the one.”

Jugo described directing as “laying yourself bare through other people,” and said that the experience is amazing when “actors understand this and are willing to work with you to make a unified work of art.”

“People should see ‘Am I Blue’ because it is about them,” Jugo said. “It’s about discovering emotional intimacy with another person. It is about friendship. Ashbe and John Polk could be anyone in the world. They could be your parents, your siblings, your friends. Why not see a play about people your age who are struggling with their identity and finding themselves?”

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