Drama Lab Previews: “Game Theory” and “Seeing the Light”

Fear not, Andover theatre-lovers: the Drama Lab is back. This Friday evening kicks off a new year of Drama Labs with two very promising plays, “Game Theory” and “Seeing the Light” Katy Svec ’10 is directing “Game Theory,” a thought-provoking dark comedy by Peter Sagal. At first ambiguous and puzzling, “Game Theory” revolves around the negotiations of businessmen Mark (Jenn Miao ’10) and Paul (Sosha Sullivan ’11), until one of the two crosses over the line that cuts through center stage. The purpose of their strange behavior is intentionally vague early on in the short play, but toward its surprising conclusion, all is made clear. Svec, a first-time director, was thrown a curveball early last week when her production date was pushed forward two weeks from October 10 to September 26, rushing her into a mere one-and-a-half week production period. However, Svec, an experienced stage manager and assistant stage manager for the theater department, refused to shake under the pressure. Indeed, after just four rehearsals and a complete re-blocking of the show, “Game Theory” was in excellent shape when I observed a rehearsal this Tuesday. Miao, who is primarily a film actress, found the transition from screen to stage relatively painless. “Acting is acting regardless of whether it’s in theater or film,” she said. Miao and Sullivan both play characters with masculine names, but Sullivan explained her interpretation of Paul by saying, “Technically, it’s a male character, but I just play the emotions, not the gender.” Svec reflects on the “Game Theory” journey, “The biggest challenge [with “Game Theory”] was finding a set and justifying it since nothing is in the script about the set.” After overcoming that obstacle, the rest mostly fell into place. “The structure of the play is there, but there are a few things that need to be tweaked,” said Svec. Once those minute details are sorted out, “Game Theory” should prove to be a memorable debut production for the 2008-09 Drama Lab season. The second Drama Lab of the night, “Seeing the Light” by Robert McKay, is directed by another new director, Ryan Morris ’09. A so-called “comedy with dramatic and serious elements,” “Seeing the Light” takes place in a nuclear silo. The cast consists of Drama Lab regulars Aleksander Huzar ’11, Daniel Santamaria ’11 and Hannah Turk ’09, who all play operators at the silo. Morris confessed that one troubling aspect of “Seeing the Light” concerned the play’s climax. “There were two possible places in the script for the play to reach a peak,” said Morris. “We started with the place that was earlier because it allowed us to more easily build up a lot of energy. But, there was quite a bit after, including Hannah’s first entrance. So we opted with the second possible place, which didn’t have as much energy but had what seems to be the primary revelation of the play.” As hold true with all Drama Labs, directors learn through trial and error under the patient guidance of the Drama Lab producers, so as to educate students on the creative process behind directing a play — in an understanding, relatively stress-free environment. Regarding “Seeing the Light,” Morris said, “I would like the audience to come away from the play with new thoughts on how people might act under great pressure.” He adds, “While the actions of the characters are somewhat surrealistic and extreme, they still represent facets of the human character.” For two dramatic looks at human character, catch these shows on Friday evening at 8 p.m. in the theater classroom in GW.