Lights On, Freshman!

This year’s theatre productions began, quite literally, with a bang. Last Friday, “Impromptu,” directed by Chelsea Woods ’07, and “Tango Delta,” directed by Steven Farquhar ’07, opened with drama, romance, and gunfire. The night began with Wood’s “Impromptu,” performed by a mere four actors. Blending theatre with reality, each of the four performers portrayed a struggling actor called to “improvise” a show by the omnipotent stage manager. Nate Flagg ’07, Anabel Bacon ’09, Scott Dzialo ’09 and Janet Scognamiglio ’08 made up the cast. With the exception of a few dropped lines, the four turned out a nearly seamless show. After only a few weeks of rehearsal, the actors produced a thoroughly convincing production. Flagg played the pretentious and unsuccessful Earnest. Bacon portrayed a loveable and innocent “leading lady-type,” Lora. Scognamiglio embodied a scornful and cynical supporting actress, Winifred. Dzialo was the earnest and softhearted Tony. With these original personalities set, the dramatic character changes began. “I was really happy with the way my character turned out,” beamed Dzialo. The character of Tony, initially a pushover, becomes emboldened throughout the play. He reflects on his loveless childhood and the way the other characters treat him, and realizes he does not need the approval of the audience or the stage manager. By the end, he transforms into the strongest character. Meanwhile, Tony’s change of heart melts Winifred’s cold demeanor. The two inevitably fall for one another. In one of the most intense moments of the play, Scognamiglio and Dzialo share an intimate kiss to the collective gasp of the audience. However, Scognamiglio’s sharp wit and veteran Flagg’s comic timing softened these dramatic interludes. In spite of its humor and outrageous plot twists, “Impromptu” managed to convey an important message. “The whole point of the play is that when the lights go out and the curtain goes down, we all have to go on improvising. There’s a metaphor for life in that play,” said Flagg. “Impromptu” gave a deceptively lighthearted start to the evening. “Tango Delta” followed,whose all-freshman cast featured Miguel Tavarez, Murphy Temple, Evan Hawk, and Gabby Iappelli. Farquhar’s extensive experience with the technical aspects of theatre was evident in the presentation of his classroom. Lighting, a detailed set, props, and sound effects were all integral to the play. Farquhar was excited to participate in a theater classroom because it allowed him a lot of space artistically. On his choice in script, Farquhar said, “As far as the classrooms, I think a lot of them are a little over the top and melodramatic. I like this one because you can make it really dramatic.” The novice cast performed with excellent professionalism. Yet with only four days to learn the script, there were unavoidably errors in the line memorization. Most of the play centered on Tavarez, whose job is driving him to the brink of insanity. But the true allure of the piece came from its surprise ending, in which Tavarez is shot, unpredictably, by a taciturn fellow agent played by Hawk. The Theatre Department made an adept choice in their pairing of “Impromptu” with “Tango Delta.” The former focused on the dialogue and the theme, while the latter was driven by the action of the plot. Both were humorous and thoroughly entertaining. Hopefully, the following theater classrooms, scheduled to take place every Friday for the rest of the term, will capitalize on the initial successes of these opening acts.