Fall play diary '09: Why is there padding THERE?
Published: Monday, November 2, 2009 - 2:44am
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7
Where: North Attic Playhouse
Tickets: $7 for adults; $6 for students, seniors, and children
Director: Barbara Ridenour (for cast and crew, see list below)
Plot: Harpagon is a wealthy penny-pincher who plans to squeeze as much money as possible out of the institution of marriage by arranging for his daughter, Elise, to marry an old man named Anselme, while he himself marries a woman named Mariane. However, Elise has already fallen for another man, Valère, and Mariane is in love with Harpagon's son, Clèante. With the help of a clever matchmaker, a sneaky servant, and a saucy cook/coachman, Elise and Clèante scheme to marry the people they really love.
Four members of the Gargoyle staff — senior editor Anna Gooler and junior editors Kahlilah Cooke, Adam Joseph, and Katy Metcalf — are involved in this year's fall play, "The Miser." This week they will take us backstage to get a sense of what goes into putting on a school production. What happens in tech week doesn't always stay in tech week.
Nov. 4 update: Ticket prices had been incorrectly reported as $6/$5; the prices are $7/$6.
URBANA — "Oh my God. Oh my God. OH MY GOD."
I am no more than halfway up the first flight of stairs, and already I can hear shouting.
"OH MY GOD GET DOWN!"
Jogging up the next three flights, I sigh in relief at what I find: People jumping from risers and running around. No one is dead, no set pieces are irreparably damaged, the show can go on. Ostensibly, at least.
Unfortunately, when I open the door to the North Attic I'm only greeted by a rush of cold air (can we not afford heating?). I mean, it's cold. Everyone is shivering. But not for long.
Within an hour (a relatively short time, all considering,) all 14 of us "actors" were clothed in period costumes for this year's fall play, "The Miser," thick fabric and heavy layers keeping us from the cold.
We girls fidgeted, trying to rearrange the padding on our hips and behinds, attempting to keep our petticoats in relative order. The guys tugged at their breeches and wigs. Never before have I seen such a collection of more uncomfortable people.
And there is padding everywhere. It is rather ridiculous. There are bum rolls and hip pads and petticoats and lots of air between our bodies and the fabric. If one of us turns, things fall over. If one of us tries to sit down, well …
The boys are no better off, though. They don't have padding, but there are the wigs. Oh, the wigs. At least we can use our own hair.
Once we were costumed, the lights went down, then up, and the rehearsal began for real.
Perhaps this is how theater works: This is my first play, and I really don't know any better. But from my perspective, it looks pretty bad. Entrances and exits are awkward ("Is this the kitchen? The bedroom? The garden? I don't know!"), lines are slow, and blocking changes with every run-through. Nothing is the same way twice. And it's still cold.
But I think it will get better. We still have three days to learn anything and everything. Hopefully by opening night "monsoir" will not be pronounced "mon-swahh," trousers will not be falling down onstage, and everyone will have learned the difference between the boys and girls dressing rooms, and when not to enter which ones.
There are some things, though, that I worry time can't fix. Our accents are, on the whole, wretched. "The Miser" was originally written in French, and titles such as "Signeour" and "Monsoir" remain. Very few of us have taken French at any time during our academic careers, and even the notes frantically scrawled on the board ("ELISE=A-LEESE") can only do so much to improve it.
And, of course, there are the costumes. They're absolutely beautiful on stage, and absolutely impossible to maneuver in. On Sunday, our final scene featuring a dance was transformed into a farce when, helped along by slick shoes and wide skirts, I tripped and dragged down half the cast with me.
Thanks to the padding of the bum roll cushioning my behind under my skirts I bear no bruises, but I'm still rather worried that our comedy will become nothing more than a farce if that mistake happens again.
This is not to sound to dire, though. I've been assured by, well, everyone that every tech week begins like this. So, come and see "The Miser"! And wish us luck for the rest of the week.
FALL PLAY '09: Molière's "The Miser," directed by Barbara Ridenour
- Harpagon (the miser) — Zack Goldberg (sr)
- Cléante (Harpagon's son) — Ethan Schiller (sr)
- Elise (Harpagon's daughter) — Stefanie Senior (jr)
- Valère (in love with Elise) — Ben Zehr (jr)
- Mariane (in love with Cléante) — Vivian Robison (sr)
- Maitress Simone (a moneylender) — Maia Gersten (so)
- Frosine (a scheming woman) — Anna Gooler (sr)
- La Flèche (Cléante's servant) — Andrew LaPointe (sr)
- Jacqueline (Harpagon's servant) — Kahlilah Cooke (jr)
- First Servant (Brendavoine) — Stirling Hobgood (fr)
- Second Servant (La Metluche) — Matthew Meyer (fr)
- Justice of the Peace — Katy Metcalf (jr)
- Clerk to the Justice — Arch Robison (su)
- Seigneur Anselme — John Garvey
- Stage Manager — Tianna Pittenger (sr)
- Costumes — Mary Stasheff
- Set Design — Margarita Mouschovias (jr)
- Lighting Design and Operation — Adam Joseph (jr)
- Sound Operator — Adam Joseph
- Poster Design — Tianna Pittenger
- Program Design — Tianna Pittenger
- Set Crew — Kahlilah Cooke, Maia Gersten, Greta Goldbart (su), Zack Goldberg, Anna Gooler, Stirling Hobgood, Andrew LaPointe, Diana Liu (sr), Katy Metcalf, Matthew Meyer, Margarita Mouschovias, Charlie Newman-Johnson (jr), Arch Robison, Vivian Robison, Ethan Schiller, Stefanie Senior, Fiona Weingartner (jr), Ben Zehr