Having spent the past two years immersed in a liberal arts education, I can appreciate the bridging of worlds, making or discovering connections between seemingly unrelated things. For example, over the summer I experienced an odd moment of parallelism between housekeeping and poetry…maybe it simply takes a metaphor-loving English major to have a moment like that, but believe me when I say that life sometimes weaves events together in the most interesting ways.
This semester I’ve been discovering more connections among seemingly contrasting things. Wrap your head around this one: what do a chem major, a business/PR major, a physics major, a math major, and English major, and a pre-PT student all have in common? Currently, they are all joining efforts to perform “Oedipus: the Prequel,” a new (or nearly new) play written for our college’s festival this fall. [In case you were wondering, the English major is me.] Earlier this semester I was roped into a new role for this festival when I agreed to direct one of the shows. Weeks later I found myself sitting through auditions, wondering how in the world I would sift through all the talented possible Chorus Members, Jocastas, or Oedipuses. The script called for an energetic cast with comic timing and a taste for throwbacks to the days of ancient Greek drama, and by the end of the second night, I found just the people to pull that off.
Every single one of my cast members will make their Theatre Westminster debut in this production. Not a single one of them acts like they’ve ever been shy of a stage.
My arrogantly doomed Oedipus, played by sophomore Ben Weagraff, swaggers across the boards. First-year Kate Stark, playing the beautiful but metaphorically blind Jocasta, sashays into his arms like a true lover (hardly a picture of maternity). Then, of course, there are my all-business, lovestruck, and clueless Chorus Members, respectively played by Erin Scott (a junior), Chelsea Benninger (a sophomore), and Laurel Michalek (a first-year); these three bring laughter to every rehearsal, both in and out of character. We comprise a goofy, ambitious, and happy crew.
It’s been eye-opening to direct rather than perform or stage manage. I’m so much more “in charge” now, and yet I was still able to connect with all of them in a way that makes the rehearsal process equal doses of fun and stressful. Part of me cringes to critique their performance–I am only a peer after all, what do I know? Nonetheless, they listen to me. Better than that, they take their own initiative in making acting choices that either work or flop but still bring another dimension to our work. Tech week approaches, and I see how they continue to connect with each other and with the script, and I keep an optimistic outlook for opening night. For a bunch of newbies, we’ve got a bunch of potential. In the words of Oedipus, “And if I’m wrong, may the gods strike me down!”