‘Bittersweet’ last show for senior theater students

There were many hugs and congratulations given out after the opening night showing of "The Bald Soprano" Friday evening in the Black Box Theater.
Many of the theater students involved had just one word to describe the feelings they had after working on their last show as a class – "bittersweet."
While many said they were happy to work with their friends, they also feel bad that this is possibly the last time many will work with each other.
"It’s a little bittersweet, but it was really exciting," said Loren Spencer, costume designer for the play.
Other than two students who helped out behind the scenes with technical equipment, the entire show was done by senior theater students.
"I think it went really well," said Meghan Hakey, who played Mary, the maid, and was the director of the play.
She said it was the first time the seniors have all worked together on their own production without any input from the theater department.
"It was a great bonding experience … It was nice to know it was all of our own decisions," said Mike Mitrano, who was the play’s stage manager and sound designer.
Though the play was done without any input from the theater department, the department does select which play the students perform. The play the students have to perform is also selected by the department based on three options chosen by the students.
Harry McEnerny, the chair of the theater department, was very impressed with the play.
"It’s wonderful, just wonderful. I couldn’t be any happier," he said.
The play is part of a genre referred to by many who worked on it as "absurdism."
McEnerny said the reason the play was chosen over the other two possible options was because of how difficult it is to perform.
"It’s got to be challenging or else they won’t grow," said McEnerny.
Martin Esslin, in his essay called "Absurd Drama," defines many of the characteristics of absurd theater or an absurd play.
"Narrative or discursive thought proceeds in a dialectical manner and must lead to a result or final message; it is therefore dynamic and moves along a definite line of development. Poetry is above all concerned to convey its central idea, or atmosphere, or mode of being; it is essentially static."
That is nowhere more evident than near the end of the play, when four of the characters in the play, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Miller begin to have a heated conversation with each other. It starts out with words known to anyone familiar with the English language before finally shifting over to foreign words, letters and then just incoherent sounds.
As McEnerny said himself, someone watching that scene is not supposed to pay attention to what they are saying to each other, but actually focus on how each of them react to each other based on their emotions when speaking their lines and talking.
The difficulty in performing the play was not lost on those in the audience.
"I enjoyed it, it was well done … Absurdism is hard for anyone," said Castleton student Eric Monzel.
Of all the seniors involved in the production, only three are coming back for Castleton’s new theater arts graduate program starting in the fall including Hakey, Max Walker and Robert Valenti.
Both Chelsea Smith and Hakey said many emotions were going around the Black Box Theater as the group looked back at what they have done over the years. Smith said everyone was "a little sappy" before the play when they were all in the dressing room.
"It’s sad to be leaving school, to leave this group," said Mitrano.


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