Out of The Shadows: Shadow Box Shows Promise

Where will you be Friday night at 7:00 pm? If you’re looking for entertainment, thoughtful monologues, or just a great way to spend the evening, then you’ll be in Tang Theatre, enjoying all of the above in The Shadow Box, a theatre workshop directed by Lexie Kuhn ’04. Written by Michael Cristofer, “The Shadow Box” focuses on three families and their unique situations and philosophies concerning death. Although the subject matter may not be light evening entertainment, the engaging actors will certainly make this performance a compelling experience for audience members. The Shadow Box is about three unusual families, each dealing with a death close at hand. The first family contains Stephanie, a kid-like druggie, Joe, who is just a guy trying to sort everything out, and Maggie, Joe’s wife, who is in denial that her husband is dying. The second “family” features Mark, a gay prostitute, Beverly, a promiscuous character, and Brian, who was formerly married to Beverly and is now with Mark. Brian develops a philosophical approach to his impending death. The last family features Agnes, a character trying to deal with her mother, Felicity, who is old, loud, obnoxious, and blind. Finally, there is a detached interviewer who observes the action from outside with an analytical, scientific air. The cast is a mixed bunch, containing everyone from the school’s most experienced actors to novices to the stage. Kuhn recalls her casting decisions as remarkably easy, saying that “during the first round of auditions, we saw about 60 actors. I called back about 25 of them, and I knew my cast after they each read one scene. Everyone just stepped right into their characters and did an incredible job, so that made casting easy… I feel like everyone has improved tremendously since the start.” Kuhn’s dynamic cast includes Chris Lynch ’04, Meryl Mims ’03, Emma Sussex ’04, Chris Zegel ’05, Paul Sonne ’03, Kate Cooper ’03, Annie Wilkin ’05, Caraline Claflin ’05, and Travis Green ‘04. Kuhn is directing for the first time and is enjoying the experience. As one of the three directors using the Tang space for theatre classrooms this term, she says she took the ambitious project because she “thought it would be a great opportunity to see how things work on the other side of the stage.” Kuhn has certainly stepped up to the challenge and is using Tang to her advantage. The show will feature scenes that take place outside the proscenium and will experiment with the depth of Tang. She admits, “the hardest aspect of the show has definitely been the blocking. The play is divided up between three families. Each family remains isolated, and never interacts with the others. It was hard to figure out a set that would allow the actors in the different families to move around without confusing the audience.” However, her choice of cast seemed to lead naturally to the blocking, and as she notes, “a lot of my inspiration has come from the actors themselves. Several times, I had the actors run through a scene before I gave them any blocking. That way I could see what they were naturally inclined to do and incorporate that into the staging.” Kuhn found the script this past summer while performing one of its many powerful monologues. She read the show to get to know her character better, and loved the script. The show has been a great experience for her and we will certainly see more of her work in the Theater Department in the terms to come. This week, the director and cast all feel confident about the show, although they must face the always trying hassles of “tech week.” Kuhn noted, “Because of scheduling conflicts, we haven’t had a very intense rehearsal schedule. For the first month or so, we usually rehearsed three nights a week. In the last couple of weeks, we have stepped it up to four nights a week.” However, such a fact does not seem to shake her confidence in the show or the actors at all. Apart from polishing up on lines, perfecting lighting cues, and speeding the show up a little, The Shadow Box is ready to go up in style on Friday. This Friday evening should be a success for the cast of The Shadow Box, and for a lucky audience, as the play takes over Tang Theatre. With its strong cast, creative director, and powerful content, this is not a show to miss.