What do a tired businessman, a heart-torn social worker, and a disgruntled art student have in common? They are all represented in the show put on by EMU’s Directing for Theater class on Common Grounds last Friday.
Three Sophomores from the class, Elisha Keener, Hattie Berg, and Dylan Bomgardner, selected scenes from different plays that would depict an aspect of their major.
The evening began with Business major Keener’s interpretation of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” followed by Social Work major Berg’s rendition of Ara Watson’s “Final Placement,” and ended with Digital Media major Bomgardner’s performance of Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things.” Each scene was read aloud by various EMU students and faculty, all from the same department as the directors.
For “Death of a Salesman,” Sophomores Everett Brubaker, Joshua Lomas, and Lauren Wengerd read while Keener adding extra voices. Under Keener’s direction, there were little to no stage directions. Instead, the cast read “Death of a Salesman” in the style of Radio Theater. Brubaker read as Willy Loman, a tired businessman who wanted to work at the main business building so that he didn’t have to travel anymore to work.
“It was very neat to watch it come together,” Brubaker said. “It’s a little difficult to play a character when you’re reading. It’s easier to act when the scene has been memorized.”
In “Final Placement,” Assistant professor of Applied Social Sciences Department Deanna Durham portrayed a social worker and Sophomore Emily Shenk read the part of a mother who is in conflict with the social worker over the custody of her son. Berg read the stage directions, giving the scene a feel similar to an audio book.
Durham, who is a social worker by training, regretted that her character, the social worker, was not portrayed empathetic in “Final Placement.” “This play is very tragic,” she said, “but it depicts what happens in real life.”
“The Shape of Things” ended the show. Visual and Communications Arts professors Paulette Moore and Jerry Holsopple, and Sophomores Emma King and David Nussbaum, all read. The scene was light-hearted and silly, making it a perfect close to the night.
Moore read the part of an art student who ‘corrects’ a nude statue which had been censored by a Museum Board with the liberal placement of grapes. Moore’s character battles the censorship by spray-painting the hidden object upon the grapes.
“My favorite part of this play was whispering ‘penis’ on stage,” King said with a laugh. “Plays are more fun when they are not censored.” Ironically, the play itself asked questions about censorship and art, especially the act of defacing what is considered art.
Unlike the scenes before, the readers for “The Shape of Things” acted out the stage directions. “I added the motion on purpose,” Bomgardner admitted. “I’m relieved that it ended well… The cast did an awesome job.”
The directing class will continue to present their readings this Friday night in Common Grounds at 8:15 p.m.
Joo-Ah Lee, Style Editor