Theatre and dance department presents student-directed shows

The University’s department of theatre & dance presented a student-directed showcase in Bucknell Hall on Feb. 3 and 4, which featured two performances: “The Cherry in Bloom” and “Wildwood Park.” There was no faculty intervention in the showcase, as the performances were supervised and advertised entirely by students.

Attendance in Bucknell Hall was strong on both nights. The first show, “The Cherry in Bloom,” written by prominent Japanese playwright Betsuyaku Minoru and translated by Robert T. Rolf, was directed by Gregory Wolf ’17.

Wolf explained the overarching plot of the play, as well as the themes he hoped to convey through his stage direction.

“This was a family drama about a Japanese family enjoying cherry blossoms and degenerating into chaos as an authoritarian grandmother quarrels with parents and all exert pressure on the young son to succeed academically, socially, or both,” Wolf said.

Stage manager Kate Franklin ’20 also commented on the origins of the production. According to Franklin, the show was based on “Asian family dynamics, telling a story of three generations: a grandmother, her daughter and husband-in-law, and their child.”

The theme of the show discussed how “hatred accumulates in people over time, how they choose to deal with it, and how this affects the relationships around them,” Franklin said.

According to Wolf, cast members Huthaifa Aladwan ’20, Delaney Clark ’18, Emily Fischer ’17, Liana Irvine ’20, Jason Hammett ’17, and Rodney West ’17, along with their stage manager Laura Lujan ’17, gave great performances. The show received positive reviews and commendation from the students and faculty in attendance.

Clark, the lead performer of the show, “stepped in only a week before the performance as an understudy due to a surprise medical emergency of one of the other cast members, but the situation ended remarkably well, she did an absolutely brilliant job,” Wolf said.

The second show, “Wildwood Park,” a play originally written by Doug Wright, was directed by Casey Venema ’18.

The story revolves around “a real estate agent showing off a house that had been the scene to a gruesome family murder, while the prospective buyer was the murderer himself,” Franklin said.

The audience was able to follow along like they were on the house tour, which contributed to the play’s theme of “how society views violence and how people love to obsess over horrific events that go on around them,” Franklin said.

Actors frequently made eye contact with audience members in order to comment on our society’s infatuation with violence.

“I think both shows made the audience feel uncomfortable, which is what these types of performances are supposed to do,” Franklin said.

She went on to say that it was interesting and surprising to hear “a lot of nervous laughter during ‘Wildwood Park.’”

When asked why he felt that the showcases were important to a theater student’s education, Wolf responded by saying “they give student directors and student actors at Bucknell a chance to produce a play sponsored by and supported by the department, but led by students. It gives Bucknell audiences a chance to see theater of a variety of different styles and moods,” Wolf said.

“The fact that the showcase is all student-run is very important to the directors, who are all students. For many of them, this is the first theater piece they have produced and directed with zero adult supervision, and this was like a stepping stone in developing the beginning of their potential careers in theater production,” Franklin said.

There will be a discussion of the two plays on Feb. 10 from 12–1 p.m. on the stage of the Harvey M. Powers Theatre. Anyone who came to the show is welcome to attend.

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