Theater presents ‘Sense and Sensibillity’
April 28, 2017
Accents present challenges
As senior Manegbe Eben practices complicated tongue twisters, she said she feels self-conscious of her newly learned British accent.
“I’ve been making a fool of myself and just talking in the accent all the time. Basically I’m engaging myself in the accent as much as I can,” Eben said.
According to theater director Jodi Hatzenbeller, this year’s spring play is “Sense and Sensibility,” which is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name.
Since the play takes place in late 18th century England, Hatzenbeller said a learned and polished British accent is required from all student actors.
Hatzenbeller said she has chosen productions in the past that require accents, such as last year’s spring play, “12 Angry Jurors.”
“Throughout the years we have sprinkled accents in where individuals have them. But since everybody is doing the same accent this year, we’re going to really have to focus on fine tuning and making it dead accurate,” Hatzenbeller said.
According to Hatzenbeller, actors were given a set of seven educational tapes they were required to listen to in order to help them learn and improve their accent.
“I gave them a series of lessons that explain specific nuances of the British accent, like dropping the ‘r’s’ and where to focus the sound in their mouth,” Hatzenbeller said.
Eben said she learned about the differences between British and American accents through listening and working through the lessons.
“Unlike American accents where it’s in the back of the mouth and words are wider, the (British) accent is forward in the mouth,” Eben said. “There’s also a lot of expression in the way they speak.”
Junior Thomas Bryant said pitch gliding is the hardest part about the accent for him.
“In the British accent there’s this thing called a pitch glide where you emphasize a certain word by changing your pitch and that’s the hardest thing to learn,” Bryant said.
Bryant said maintaining the British accent throughout the whole show is challenging.
“Mid-scene I’ll be rehearsing, and I’ll realize I’m not in accent anymore, and then I’ll shift back to British and everything about my characterization shifts as well. It’s very difficult,” Bryant said.
Despite having few rehearsals using the accents, Hatzenbeller said she sees improvements in students.
“I’m starting to hear more and more accuracy and confidence in the students’ accents,” Hatzenbeller said.
The theater will present “Sense and Sensibility at 7 p.m. April 28 and 29 and at 2 p.m. April 30 in the High School Theater.
Crew builds set on wheels
Moving pieces create smooth scene transitions
As the theater group prepares for the upcoming spring play, sophomore Ayanna Nathan said she is excited because this show marks her fifth time contributing to the production as a crew member.
“My first show was the winter one act plays of 2015,” Nathan said. “I did crew in the Middle School theater which wasn’t very much, and I heard that the crew (at Park) actually builds the set and makes props so I was interested in that, and I had a lot of friends doing it as well.”
According to Nathan, the crew’s responsibilities include building, creating costumes and cleaning the auditorium.
“Everything you see on stage that isn’t people一that’s what the crew does. We make sure the stage and Auditorium (are) clean and costumes crew makes all the costumes and fit them,” Nathan said. “We build all the furniture that you see mainly besides the couches and beds.”
According to tech director Don Romain, the crew approaches building set pieces in two different ways.
“Sometimes it’s building things from scratch like we did with the window frame (and) sometimes it’s modifying existing things that we have like the rolling table,” Romain said. “We had a rolling table, but it didn’t look fancy enough so we had to adapt it and put new machine carved legs on it.”
Artistic director Jodi Hatzenbeller said she drew inspiration for this show from other productions of “Sense and Sensibility”一a play based on the Jane Austen novel一to create a beginning design for the production.
According to Hatzenbeller, she used the idea of putting all of the set pieces on wheels to incr
ease the show’s flow from one scene to the next一there are 48 separate scenes.
“I actually borrowed the idea of putting everything on wheels from the original performance of this adaptation who did a similar thing with theirs. I thought ‘that’s a really clever way of keeping the show constantly active and making transitions really quick’,” Hatzenbeller said. “If we had to take time for every single transition it would really slow down the pacing.”
Nathan said an important part of the crew’s construction process is the division of labor. She said in her experience as a part of crew, big props and set pieces must be finished first.
“For example, all painters are being used on the canvas and some of the wood people are building things or just putting wheels on everything,” Nathan said. “A balanced division of work is a necessity for a production.”
Romain said he appreciates that some of the cast help out with the crew and give feedback about what the cast needs and what changes the crew should make.
“It’s also really helpful that we have a couple of people who are cast members who also come to crew because then they’ll come in and say things like ‘well you know today we rehearsed moving this and and the piece was a little bit smaller than we thought, can we make it bigger?’” Romain said.
According to Hatzenbeller, the crew and actors have about six to eight weeks to prepare for the show and five or six of them are dedicated to construction. Hatzenbeller said limited auditorium space for various groups using the facility infringes on the crew’s time to work on the set.
“Usually in the first couple of weeks we’ll start construction, sometimes we prioritize getting a certain set piece done so that we can use it in practice,” Hatzenbeller said. “The week before we add sound and lights, which add another layer to the show, and we start using the costumes and the actors actually wear them for rehearsal.”
Hatzenbeller said she works mainly with the costumes crew, advising with designs and ideas, but the crew themselves sew all the costumes.
“Once we cast actors then the costumes crew looks at the characters and the actors playing them and then they discuss things like color for symbolism but also something like maybe that actor looks really bad in that color,” Hatzenbeller said.
Junior costumes crew member Zoe Weinmann said she originally joined the costumes crew to get more experience with sewing. Weinmann said with this particular production, the costumes crew has more work cut out for them because they will be sewing costumes themselves.
“The process for deciding costumes all depends on (Hatzenbeller) and what she’s looking for. She’ll tell us what she’s looking for if we’re making something from scratch, and sometimes she’ll give us fabric to work with too and then we kind of choose which pattern will look best for each character,” Weinmann said.
Nathan said she sometimes feels frustrated with the lack of student appreciation for the crew’s work.
“(The crew does) so much work. We spend a lot of late nights and several times I’ve been here till almost midnight working so the next day I could come back and do more work,” Nathan said. “Everything that you see on stage someone had to create. The show could not go on without us.”
The theater will present “Sense and Sensibility” at 7 p.m. April 28 and 29 and at 2 p.m April 30 in the High School Theater.
Junior enjoys working behind-the-scenes
Jake Henry finds passion for theater, light crew
While skeptical at first, junior Jake Henry now appreciates his experience working with the theater light crew.
Henry said his interest in joining the lights crew became relevant after not being cast as a character in a show his freshman year.
“I (joined the light crew) because I wasn’t cast (in the show) and I was really bitter and I wanted to make sure I was apart of theater no matter what,” Henry said. “I ended up really liking (the light crew) because it is really cool.”
Henry said he has a lot of responsibilities to do before the show can be run through.
“I have to make sure all of the lights are clean and working before we can run the show because we need all of the lights we can have because we don’t have a lot of lights,” Henry said.
According to theater program director Jodi Hatzenbeller, the light and sound crew work together on how to polish the show.
“It is particularly (stressful) on tech day, which is the day where we bring (the show) all together. The cast is on stage, and Jake (Henry), Devin (Raynor) and I are back at the booth conferring with Don, the tech director,” Hatzenbeller said.
Henry said he has been a part of the light crew since his freshman year.
“I have been running lights for about a year and half right now, and I have been on light crew since the spring show of my freshman year,” Henry said.
Henry said the people who run lights must go through informational training.
“(Informational training is) teaching people how to clean lights, run maintenance, aim lights and how to use a board, so recording and cues,” Henry said. “(Training also teaches) what to do when you are really stressed out on tech day.”
According to Hatzenbeller, tech day has a lot of pressure to make sure all of the decisions have been made.
“We decide we need this for this scene or this for that scene and it’s a very stressful day because that’s when all those decisions get made,” Hatzenbeller said. “We sort of have to fine tune to make it look right.”
Henry said working with the light crew proves a fun job but can be stressful at times.
“I have a blast (but) tech day is when it gets stressful,” Henry said.