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Alice in Bedlam

In Play Reviews on April 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm

A Review

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Alice in Bedlam, written by The Green Room’s very own Katrina Case, and directed by Lauren Jacobs, was a unique and challenging show to produce for two main reasons. First, it was a “moveable feast” which means the audience physically moved from room to room depending on where each scene took place. Secondly, it was a found theater space. The production took place in an old mill in Taylors, SC. Both of these aspects presented unique challenges to the production crew, but they were used to enhance the story rather than distract you from it.

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

Let’s examine the story itself for just a moment. I found the adaptation from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” to be quite fascinating. Upon entering Bedlam, a hospital for the mentally ill, the audience is met with loud screams and noises from the Bedlam patients scattered throughout the hospital. The character Charles Dodgson, played by Johnathan Schofield, has been admitted to Bedlam due to his unpredictable epileptic seizures. He is visited regularly by his sister, Lorina, and his niece, Alice, played by Diana Little and Jessica MacQuarrie respectively. When Charles sees Alice, he recounts poems of the sea and sands which the Walrus and the Carpenter could not possibly sweep up. Back at home, the audience meets Alice’s older sister, Sarah, and her Aunt Hannah, as well as Edna, the house maid. After an upsetting and difficult argument with Lorina, Alice questions her mother’s motivation for placing her Uncle Charles in Bedlam, and what her world would be like if there were true examples of love around her. “Through the Looking Glass” is alluded to when Alice describes her desire to experience the world in the looking glass – that world in the mirror which seems to be identical, yet so very different. Alice decides to go back to Bedlam the next day and bring her uncle back home with the help of her Aunt Hannah. Upon her return home, she challenges her mother’s practice of “love” towards others. Alice questions her mother’s “love” for her brother and even for herself and Sarah. The play concludes in a small chapel. Lorina and Charles have their first encounter outside of Bedlam and it is still difficult for her to embrace her brother, but the slow process of change has begun. Charles then concludes his tale of the Walrus and the Carpenter, clasps Alice’s hand, and they exit the scene. The play was well written and beautifully painted a picture of both the need for and practice of self-sacrificial love.

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

The vast space was used quite well. As an audience member I only had one small quibble with the space. Because it was so vast, there was a pretty noticeable and somewhat distracting echo in the Bedlam scenes. However, the actors compensated for this quite well and really made a deliberate effort to be clear with their words. The fact that it was an old mill with rust stains, broken windows, creaky floors, and pale green walls only added to the atmosphere of an unwelcoming insane asylum. The furniture used in Alice’s home adequately suggested the period as well as created a unique and visually appealing juxtaposition with the background of the mill walls and floor. Lighting of course was steady flood lighting. I would have liked to see colder lighting for the scenes in Bedlam rather than the warmer yellow hues that were used. Also, perhaps a different angle in which the lights were hung to create more shadows would have been an interesting choice. It wasn’t spectacle, but it was appropriately simple for the style of the production.

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

I absolutely loved the costume design. It was such an interesting collage of period dress, hint of steampunk, and modern design. The designer, Meghan Reimers, showed resourcefulness by transforming pieces that seemingly didn’t fit into the production design to create a beautiful ensemble. I found that the costumes were not over the top or out of touch with the overall style of the play. They were visually appealing but not distracting. Well done!

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Bedlam as I watched Alice and Charles’ story unfold. I completely forgot that I was standing for the entire time. I didn’t find the movement from scene to scene to be detracting from the flow of the play. The director handled those tricky transitions beautifully. I found myself disappointed at the end. No, not disappointed in the production, but disappointed that the story had already ended. I wanted to see more! I wanted to linger in the story, see more of those vivid and fascinating characters I had met in Bedlam, eavesdrop on more of the private conversations Alice had with herself as she wrote in her small journal, and hear more of Charles’ stories. I was fully caught up in the story and enjoyed the experience of moveable feast! Job well done to all who were involved!

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

Bio_Shots-5By Jessica Bowers

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Dreams Of Sonya

In Interviews and Previews on April 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

A Word with the Artists

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Dreams of Sonya, coming to the Kroc Center in Greenville, SC on the 19th and 20th of April, was written by Micah Thompson, a former graduate student from Bob Jones University. Dreams of Sonya will be performed by two current graduate students, Katrina Case and Lindsay Morgan.

Actress, Lindsay Morgan

Actress, Lindsay Morgan

When asked what the vision for the production was, Katrina replied, “I really want audience members to come thinking of it as a psychological puzzle. It’s not the type of play that is laid out simply; it is very complex.” Lindsay said, “We really wanted something that would challenge us in the acting department.” Dreams of Sonya presents a cast of seven characters being played by only Katrina and Lindsay. Wanting to have that challenge and lacking material to perform gave them the motivation to approach Micah about a script. They have faced many challenges at the start of and through the duration of this process. The greatest challenge was “finding a rehearsal space, and next to that are the technical elements. There are a lot,” says Katrina. Lindsay remarked, “Ninety percent of the efforts up until this point have just been getting it to happen.” There were a lot of details such as budgeting, booking a performance venue, and marketing which factored into the preparation for this production. By and large, Katrina and Lindsay have had to go through the process by trial and error.

Actress, Katrina Case

Actress, Katrina Case

Each story has a message. Each story-teller has a motivation or a goal for telling that story, however simple or complex it may be. Katrina states, “I want to present an entertaining story and entertaining characters. And at the end of it I want the audience to have an ‘Aha!’ moment, thinking ‘That’s what’s going on with Sonya.’” Lindsay shares both a personal and audience goal for her message in Dreams of Sonya. “My goal for myself was to just get further outside [of] my comfort zone. I wanted characters that I necessarily didn’t align with or normally get cast in, as in, they’re not my type. For the audience, since I didn’t really know what the script was going to be when we commissioned it, it was almost just more trusting the playwright, knowing that Micah can make a beautiful point out of something while making the audience laugh. Making them [the audience] think is great, but I didn’t want to necessarily subject them to a ton of philosophy, but with Micah’s humor I wanted them to be able to laugh as well.”

Playwright, Micah Thompson

Playwright, Micah Thompson (photo credit, Laura Kirsop)

What is the message? What will the audience carry away from Dreams of Sonya? Katrina sums it up in three simple words: “Face your problems.” In a few more words Lindsay says, “I want them to walk away with ‘I wouldn’t want to make that decision.’ I don’t necessarily want them to, in the end, side with the title character.”

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So, this weekend is fast approaching. What will you be doing? Hopefully you will be able to purchase a ticket for Dreams of Sonya, and enjoy a fun and thought-provoking evening of theatre. If you would like to view Dreams of Sonya’s video teaser, you can check it out on their facebook page – just search for “Dreams of Sonya,” or you can make your way to their website, www.DreamsofSonya.com. Remember – snag a ticket while you can! They may be purchased through Programs & Productions at Bob Jones University (just call 864.770.1372), or through www.DreamsofSonya.com. See you there!

Bio_Shots-5By Jessica Bowers

Reflections from The Shadow of the Cross

In Play Reviews on April 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

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Throughout the history of mankind, art has been a display of cultures, of traditions or famous tales and stories. But it has mostly portrayed lives, etched to remind those who gaze upon it of the difference made because of the scene they see.

But what if that art, those painted figures of people whose eyes stare lifeless upon their frame, could voice their thoughts?

This question is explored through this year’s production at Bob Jones University of Living Gallery where famous works of art such as Michelangelo’s Pieta and The Last Supper by da Vinci are suddenly life size. This year, however, they actually come to life and the audience was taken back two thousand years through eleven pieces of art to see and listen to witnesses of the single event that most changed the world. What if we could hear the words of those in The Shadow of the Cross?

Living Gallery Drama 2013

The artwork itself is meticulously preserved to ensure accuracy. Having seen some of the original paintings, these enlarged versions (containing sometimes up to fifteen live models) are mirror images in comparison. You would have to be looking very closely and know a great deal about the originals to ever spot a slight difference. The tableau artists did a tremendous job on replicating the artwork. The models are perfectly placed and blended into the work and at first, an audience member might not notice there are people in or on the paintings. To create this effect, each model must sit through hours of make-up to be transformed into their character from the painting or sculpture.

Living Gallery Drama 2013

The lighting is another element other than the make-up that creates the “living art” effect. Through side, over head and front lighting, we are able to see the shadows of 3-D actors amongst paintings and discover details in the work that are often lost in a smaller-scale 2-D original. In the Descent from the Cross, with the original work by Adam Lenckhardt, eight models take their stance as a carved statue with the same appearance as having been made of one piece of ivory. The effect is really remarkable.

But this production does not just display the art. It lives it. Over the years, different dramas have been incorporated into the showing of the life size art pieces. Each was compelling and a beautiful portrayal of God’s love and sacrifice for the redemption of man. But there is something provoking, dare I even say powerful, about seeing people step out from art that many of us have gazed upon before, and hear what might have been the words, the emotions, and the struggles of those who lived in the time of this Christ, this Jesus. The director, Paul Radford, expertly guided his cast to capture the audience in the first moments of the performance. With the entrance of the Centurion, we are immediately brought to the cascading darkness drawn upon by the death of Christ. The Centurion was grippingly played by Jason Houtz who pulled our thoughts to believe in his struggle to understand who this Jesus is and why would He die. The portrayal of Peter, by Ben Nicholas, in Peter’s Denial and then in The Storm on the Sea of Galilee was also very real and believable. The audience is able to identify with and understand each of these characters in some way and be able to say ‘part of that is me’. In a clever choice by Paul Radford, the angel Gabriel lights up the auditorium and calls out to the audience. Be watching for this moment. It really is thought provoking. At each piece of art, we are drawn to listen to the heartbeat, the core values, of those who lived through the death of Christ.

Living Gallery Drama 2013

But this story does not end with death. In perhaps one of the most captivating moments of all, each main character previously displayed in the art, returns to the stage with echoing words that ring throughout the auditorium crying out to God with whys, rebuke, desperation and belief. This culminates with a triumphant resurrection of the Savior in the work The Resurrected Christ. With soaring orchestration and voices raised, the living Christ Jesus is glorified and an audience member walks away with this probing question; am I in the shadow of the Cross?

Living Gallery Drama 2013

DSC_0252 By Meagan Ingersoll