By Molly Igoe
Elm Staff Writer
This spring senior thesis productions cover a variety of topics and explore a diverse array of themes. From “Henry V” by William Shakespeare to “Venus in Fur” by David Ives, the four productions are bound to interest an eclectic audience.
Austin Lewis is the director of “Red,” a play that he said “explores the relationship between the artist Mark Rothko and his fictional assistant Ken, which through the course of the play moves from an employer/employee relationship to a father/son figure relationship. It is about going into the world learning from those who came before you, but also being your own person.” He added that many students can relate to the concept of being their own person, especially with many who will be graduating soon and going into the “real world.”
Lewis chose “Red” because it explores the role art plays in people’s lives and the importance of having a creative outlet. He said, “I think my favorite part of directing this play has been trying to explore what we can do with this show that other drama theses haven’t done, and exploring what we can do on stage and what we can do to immerse the audience in the space as a whole.” “Red” premieres April 3 and 4 in Decker Theater.
Nicholas O’Meally is directing “Henry V,” which premieres on the campus green on April 10 at 4:30 p.m. and April 11 at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The iconic play by Shakespeare is set in 1599 during the Hundred Years War. It primarily follows young King Henry V as he navigates his way through responsibility and leadership.
O’Meally said, “Some would describe Henry V as charismatic, while others thought of him as a tyrant. I think he was both; maybe you need both to be a leader.” He picked Henry V because it explores the morality of war along with the importance of leadership, which is highly emphasized at Washington College.
His first time directing has been quite enjoyable. He said, “I have such an amazing cast and crew, and they have made me think about this play in different ways.” There have been some challenges with the weather, because it is an outdoor play, but the actors have been great at making do with what is available to them. Ultimately, O’Meally said, “What we’re trying to do with this play is to remember those that we have lost, and to call out to the fallen that are common folk, not nobles and kings.”
“Venus in Fur,” is drastically different from “Henry V.” It’s based on the novella by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The Drama Department’s website describes it as a “sexy and modern play-within-a-play.” Mackenzie Turnbull, who is directing, said, “‘Venus in Fur’ has many heavy, real themes that scare me as a director and as a student.”
The comedy, which premieres April 17, 18, and 24 in the Gibson Center for the Arts’ Rehearsal Room, relies on just two actors to “arouse and build suspense.” Turnbull chose a David Ives play because many of the students in Acting I have had to read his other book “All in the Timing,” but she chose “Venus in Fur,” because she said it is more relevant to student’s lives, as it explores ideas like gender, sexuality, and history.
Turnbull said in regard to her experience as a director, “My labor of love is directing because it’s a two year process that requires trusting others to be vulnerable not only for myself, the director, but for an audience of peers. My actors, my staff, and my designers have all devoted their time and creativity to ensure that this hour and 15 minutes is not only believable, but resonates after you’ve all walked out of those glass doors of Gibson and resumed your lives at WC or elsewhere.”
Amanda Varvar could not be reached for comment in toime for pubication. Her thesis, “Next to Normal,” a musical about the effects of mental illness and grief on a family, ran on March 20 and 21.