By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
The Theatre Department is putting on five shows through March and April under the various direction of Assistant Professor of Theatre Brendon Fox and five senior theatre majors.
Fox will be directing “Silent Sky,” a play based on the true story about 19th century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt as she fights in a “landscape of fierce sisterly love, early feminism, universe-revealing science, and a time when humans were called computers,” said Lauren Gunderson, the playwright. According to Playbill.com, Leavitt, a Massachusetts pastor’s daughter, leaves her home and her sister for a job at Harvard University’s Observatory. There, she maps the night sky by studying photographic plates and subsequently meets Peter Shaw, the head astronomer’s apprentice, who makes her re-examine her vow to never marry. Despite having a lowly position and limited access to scientific equipment, Leavitt makes an amazing discovery, but is battling the possibility of not receiving credit.
If you are a fan of musicals, come see “Last September,” an original piece written and composed by Andrew Wink. On a flight from
San Diego to Baltimore, two strangers, Nick, a college graduate, and John, a businessman, tell each other stories about their families and college experiences. The musical deals with mental illness and suicide in college students as well as the loss of loved ones; the music is heavily inspired by modern rock and metal bands like Green Day, Bon Jovi, and Breaking Benjamin.
Wink is inspired by “Next to Normal” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” two shows that deal with death and family. “I took inspiration from both of these shows, as well as my personal experience from the fall of 2014. No one work served as inspiration for me. A lot of different plays, music, and life experiences went into this project,” he said.
“The Arsonists” by Jacqueline Goldfinger tells a darker story. Set deep within a Florida swamp, M loses her father to an arson gone wrong and is led across his memory and myth to find her own identity in the ashes. Inspired by the Greek tragedy “Electra,” the play with music explores the parent-child relationship in the small space between life and death.
“This script fell into my hands in the fall of 2015, and I knew that I wanted to tell this story,” director Kristen Barnes said. “I appreciate theatre that peels away the layers of humanity to reveal our connection with each other, as M’s bond with her father does.”
Barnes began acting in a production of “Bachelorette” the spring of her freshman year. She spent the next four years acting at WC and wanted to try directing to put herself in a position to investigate in a totally different light. “I wanted my thesis to be something that forced me out of my comfort zone. ‘The Arsonists’ takes Sophocles’ ‘Electra’ from the original myth in order to give her [Electra] catharsis through live music,” Barnes said.
Maggie Campbell’s original show “Aladdin dell’Arte,” a Commedia reincarnation of the classic tale “Aladdin,” is more over-the-top comedic and romantic.
“I am more drawn to comedies, but love having a good cry every now and again. It all depends on my mood, the state of the world around me and other stuffs,” she said. “At this time, the U.S. needs to back up and just have a laugh.”
Taken from old Italian slap-stick comedy style and melding it with the long-adored tale of a lower-class boy and a princess trying to find a way to be together against all odds, this play is filled with zany characters, over-the-top physical comedy, and a romance that will warm the audience’s hearts.
The final production this semester will be “Every Brilliant Thing” by Duncan Macmillan, a performance thesis featuring Smith and directed by senior Erin Coffman. The show begins with a young boy who creates a list of little things to help his mother find happiness. As the years pass, the list starts to take on a life of its own, and thousands of entries are added, such as ice cream, Marlon Brando, and burning things. What starts out as a simple way of dealing with the hospitalization of his mother becomes a reminder of all the little joys in life.
All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. “Silent Sky” will be showing March 7-9, “Last September” will follow on March 23-25, “The Arsonists” will be live March 31-April 1, “Aladdin dell’Arte” will show April 14-15, and “Every Brilliant Thing” will conclude the semester April 21-22.