Ever seen a show at Brown and immediately wondered: “What did they have to do to make that?” Fear no more. BlogDH presents The Process, a new video column in partnership with Sock & Buskin that highlights the rehearsal process of Brown mainstage productions.
The first installment is for 410[GONE], the last show of the mainstage season. Erik Ehn, chair of the theatre department, brings this poignant and powerful play by Brown alum Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig ’05 to life. 410[GONE] is a tragicomedy that explores loving past all limits and loving to the point of non-attachment, as a Chinese American brother and sister navigate possible histories and possible futures in the face of a sudden, catastrophic death.
410[GONE] opens this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. in Leeds Theatre. Performances are on April 2-5 and 9-12, Thurs – Sat @ 8:00 p.m.
Get your tickets here, in person before the show, or in advance at the Brown Theatre box office in the Leeds Theatre Breezeway. First years and transfers get into Thursday performances free.
For most Brown students, Shakespeare existed only in high school English classes; while his importance as a founding father of modern drama and comedy are drilled into our brains, his texts often remain inert to the modern reader.
To those who haven’t seen high-quality Shakespeare productions, welcome to a whole new world. To those who have and love it, welcome to your dream.
Twelfth Night, directed by Jane Nichols, is a well-oiled machine. Despite running two and a half hours, the show doesn’t ever lag. The actors are like frenetic puppets, weaving on and off stage with timed precision. The set, too, is moving; the stage, initially all but bare upon entering the theater, changes subtly but effectively to denote change of setting.
Nichols, an esteemed professor of at the Yale School of Drama and currently a visiting artist at Brown, is an obvious professional and the true star of the show, despite never appearing on stage. Her blocking is as tight as can be, and her knowledge of the text is clear from the start. Unlike many student productions of Shakespeare, it’s clear the actors know the exact meaning of the lines they’re delivering. When the actors know the meaning of their words, it’s much easier for the audience to wade through Shakespeare’s, at times, opaque text–and the jokes certainly land with surer footing. The actors are just as comfortable in group scenes as they are expertly delivering soliloquies that sometimes border on… lengthy.
Despite the old school rap blaring as you enter Stuart Theatre and the traditional set with which you are greeted onstage, a drab government building overladen with mahogany and filing cabinets, Sock and Buskin’s new play Hype Hero is, above all, about modernity. It is simultaneously futuristic, current and archaic. It is a hyper-real representation of America, circa 2014.
Hype Hero, written by Dominic Taylor MFA ’95 (in typical open curriculum fashion, he also received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown) and directed by Kym Moore, is described by the playwright as “an afro-futurist Comedy of the Absurd.”
And absurd it definitely is. Everything is slightly off–the phone ringing sound effect is eerily hollow, soldiers burst on and off the stage, and the entirety of the first act takes place outside the Mayor’s (Crystal Kim ’16) office. The Mayor is a bumbling bureaucrat, a dictatorial, paranoid and ineffective leader in a dress wrought with sequins and ruffles. Kim’s portrayal is spot-on, channeling Elizabeth Banks in The Hunger Games and every political leader since Abraham Lincoln.
But the show is not Kim’s. It’s Sarah’s, Kim’s “administrative assistant,” played with equal reserve and ferocity by Jordan DeLoach ’15. Her role as Sarah is complex, requiring her to navigate both cultural and personal allegiances while remaining in her office chair almost the entire show. DeLoach is both the most active and inactive member of the cast, symbolically as much as literally. Her facial expressions, physicality and vocal shifts (at times performing “propriety,” especially when talking to The Mayor, at others employing use of vernacular, depending on her audience) are integral to her construction of Sarah.
In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, which opens tonight at 8:00 p.m. and runs through Monday, October 21st, is on the surface a rollicking comedy—a story of sex and deceit with a good dose of physical and slapstick humor and witty retorts. However, around fifteen minutes in, you begin to realize In the Next Room is not merely a wildly entertaining, 21st-century Oscar Wilde-esque play, but a modern feminist manifesto.
Directed masterfully by Karin Nilo ’14 and written by Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA ’01, In the Next Room isset in Victorian-era New York and follows Mrs. Givings, a woman whose husband treats female (and later male) patients for hysteria using the vibrator, and Mrs. Daldry, one of Dr. Givings patients, as they discover their sexuality and slowly take control of their bodies. Continue Reading