By Catalina Righter
The fall 2015 season at Washington College promises a variety of plays, from famous favorites to fresh student work and clever comedy to dark psychological dilemmas. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in Tawes Theater.
The first show, directed by Anna Baldwin, is an experimental piece in the style of the autoteatro titled “Autoquette.” Baldwin straddles the line between playwright and director with this show because, “on one hand it is the creation of a new script to follow, and on the other I am still leading a group of people to bring my vision to life on the stage. The professors have been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic, even if they still have no clue what to expect,” she said.
As far as themes, she said, “It will attempt to answer the questions, ‘who are we responsible to when we log in online as a different name?’ and ‘what are the standards of behavior when dealing with anonymity?’”
There is no cast for this show, so the audience will become part of the experiment and the story. Baldwin hopes her audience will arrive with a “willingness to actively participate… passivity is definitely not the goal,” she said. The show premires on Oct. 2. There will be a second performance on Oct. 3.
Next, on Oct. 9 and 10, athletes and romantics alike may enjoy “Running” directed by Andrew Huelskoetter. According to a synopsis on dramatists.com, “The audience gets to know the characters as they get to know each other over the course of the night. Their talk becomes more intimate and more revealing as the play progresses, and the comic tone becomes more melancholy as the themes of middle-age loss, self-knowledge and loneliness push through.”
Huelskoetter could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
The stage will take a serious tone from Oct. 23-24 for “Equus,” directed by Charlotte Cugnini. The show “follows Martin Dysart, a well respected child psychiatrist, as he tries to understand his patient, Alan Strang, a disturbed teenager whose dangerous obsession with horses leads him to commit an unspeakable act of violence,” said Cugnini.
For her, the show’s oddities are also its beauty. “There’s nudity, people pretending to be horses, and a lot of imagination involved. Sometimes all at the same time,” she said. “It’s not dark and shock just for the sake of it. It’s dark because that’s a big part of psychology and truth telling… I connected with Dysart in a way that I’ve never done before with any character. There’s something about him that I just get.”
She said that the experience of putting on a production early in the semester is “a bit squished…It makes me think of reading a text book for class, and you end up highlighting everything. So the professor then tells you to only highlight the important parts, but you tell them that it’s all important, or why read it? You need to prioritize, but everything is important.”
At the midpoint of the semester, Alexander Foxwell will direct “The Revisionist,” a show about “defining family in one’s loneliness. Sometimes people are most comfortable when they’re all alone,” according to Foxwell.
Foxwell characterizes the play’s author, Jesse Eisenberg as “a bit of an eccentric” and said, “Getting inside his head has been a little crazy, but he has written a beautiful and hilarious play that really resonates with me.”
“One of the characters is a Holocaust survivor who attempts to connect with distant family. My grandmother is also a Holocaust survivor, and many members of our family just never returned… Everything I do has been informed by my family’s past and their enduring legacy. I really chose ‘The Revisionist’ because of how it deals with grief and maintaining family connections.”
Challenges of the production, according to Foxwell, include shaving a character’s legs onstage and “fitting an entire Communist-era flat on the Tawes stage,” but the show’s team aims to “tackle each challenge with humor and good old-fashioned elbow grease… It’s important to remember that theatre is supposed to be fun, and I’ll be darned if I don’t plan on enjoying myself during the process,” he said. You can catch the show Nov. 6 and 7.
On Nov. 13 and 14, Amanda Klute will tackle the direction of southern classic, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” For the uninitiated, the WC webpage describes the plot of the play. “When the arrival of her sister into her carnal lifestyle ignites a threat of destruction, Stella DuBois Kowalski must learn to balance the bestial natures of the two things she loves most: her sister, Blanche, and her husband, Stanley. Set in a torrid atmosphere where reckless behavior is rewarded and nostalgia stalks around every corner, this New Orleans drama forces us to confront our temptations and find the inner strength to survive.”
Klute said, “For me, I’ve only just begun this process. Casting ‘Streetcar’ is particularly difficult in a college setting, but I’m honored and thrilled to be working with such a talented and diverse group of individuals, and can only hope they feel the same way. I’m excited to begin rehearsing.”
“[‘A Streetcar Named Desire’] engages us on a variety of levels, many of which we don’t like to admit, or address. At its core, it’s a conflict between our inner temptations acted on by outside forces. It’s a marriage between man and beast that we all are born with. ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a portrait of the human experience like no other, and I hope WC is ready this November.”
For those seeking comedy, “39 Steps” directed by Sean Syme will be a welcome addition to the lineup. Said Syme, “An homage to the theater and Alfred Hitchcock, ‘39 Steps’ is a spy story turned British comedy with a huge assortment of characters played by four actors… I wanted to put on a show that would make me laugh, and have everyone else laughing with me. Its cleverness and self-awareness really makes it a one of kind theatrical experience,” said Syme.
The biggest challenge will be bringing the play’s world of espionage to the stage. “The play has a lot of ridiculous settings such as on top of train or in the middle of a plane chase, [which] require a unique and creative approach,” he said. The show will run Nov. 21 and 22.
The final show of the semester is a playwriting thesis written by Reilly Cox and directed by Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Theatre and Dance Michelle Volansky. Cox said the show “concerns three siblings as they navigate the death of their father and the histories it complicates… I’ve been working on the script for a little over a year now, having begun it on a visit to Bethany Beach two summers ago.”
Cox describes his role in the production as “playwright hands-on.” He said, “In theatre, and especially for the experience of a senior capstone, it is important for a playwright to give up control of the production aspects of the play and to instead focus on the script” because theater is “about the collaboration between artists rather than a repetition of one vision.” The show will premier on Dec. 4 and run through Dec. 5
To reserve tickets prior to one of the shows, call 410-778-7835 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional reporting by Molly Igoe.