Students have voiced concerns about scheduling conflicts surrounding the upcoming play House of Atreus. These conflicts mainly stem from the difficulties of having a show with a large cast, spread-out rehearsals and a guest director with a busy schedule.
House of Atreus was written by Lance Marsh, professor of acting and head of performance, who condensed four two-hour-long Greek plays and separated those plays into two parts. The original plays follow the “blood curse” put on “Agamemnon” and his children “Electra,” “Iphigenia” and “Orestes.”
The two parts are handled by different directors. Part One is directed by world-renowned director Leslie Swackhamer, and Part Two is directed by Marsh.
Swackhamer worked with the cast for five days before she had to leave to direct a production of Madame Butterfly. The cast will begin rehearsals when Swackhamer returns in February. Until then, actors were asked to memorize their lines, and stage managers are working on paperwork.
Onnika Hanson, acting sophomore and assistant stage manager for the show, said she’s not able to audition for other shows this semester because of the time commitment of House of Atreus. Although Hanson needs assistant stage management credit for her stage management minor, she is now unable to find a way to have acting experience during this semester.
“It’s kind of annoying because I’m an acting major and not a stage management major,” Hanson said.
Each play is set in a different time period, everywhere from the turn of the century to present day.
“It’s really cool to go through the different time periods,” Hanson said. “At one point, the Greek Gods come back, and there’s a traditional Greek chorus with ‘Apollo’ and ‘Athena,’ which is so cool.”
Luke Eddy, instructor of movement and stage combat and movement director for House of Atreus said he is thankful for the spread-out rehearsals because it gives him an opportunity to work on some of the larger technical aspects of the show like the Greek chorus.
“We’re sort of on hiatus right now,” Eddy said. “But I’m focused on making sure the physicalities are appropriate before we get into rehearsals.”
Because the story was condensed to fit into two parts, the chorus serves as a way to fill the spaces between plot points.
“The Greek chorus is a group of individuals who don’t have a name and are meant to represent the common man,” Eddy said. “They are the lens through which the audience sees the story.”
Eddy said Swackhamer is using the “Viewpoints” method of directing, which deals with movement improvisation, as well as the “Suzuki” method, which draws from martial arts and works to strengthen actors’ cores.
Eddy said this production is going to be unlike anything anyone’s seen before because it involves such a huge cast and spans over several time periods.
“I think the performance is really going to be a huge flagship of a production,” he said.
As frustrated as students are in dealing with scheduling conflicts, many students are excited to see how Marsh’s adaptation will translate on stage.
“I think it’s cool how one of our professors wrote his own show, and we’re doing new work instead of just repeating things we’ve already done,” Hanson said.
House of Atreus will run 8 p.m March 30 – April 1 and then again April 6 – 8 in Burg Theater in Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center. Matinee showings will be at 2 p.m. April 1 – 2 and April 8 – 9.
Marsh was unavailable Monday for comment.