February 19, 2009

The Rivals: Cast Reflections

“Getting to work on such an intimate show where you have 2-3 acting partners was a joy; I got to deepen friendships with people. Michael Gaunt made it easy to transport yourself back to the 1770's, he knew so much about the period! And then there were those great dresses!” Kaja Dunn (Julia)

“My thesis experience couldn't have been better! Gaunt was so knowledgeable and passionate about the characters that it made me even more passionate about mine! He expected professional work from us the moment he arrived and I think that was a wonderful motivation for us to keep moving forward, rising to that standard. The other actors I was able to work with were trustworthy and sensitive; and I could truly see that everyone was holding themselves to a high standard of performance. The rehearsals didn't stop with rehearsal. There was line running, improv in character, and discussions of moments continually heard off stage. Every night was an experience—especially the night my dress broke during my first scene! Needless to say, I loved this opportunity.” Ashley Larsen, (Thesis role: Lydia Languish)

“Working with Professor Gaunt was very interesting. He was never cross with the cast, but you could tell if he was disappointed—it was frightening beyond all belief! He would always give notes is the most pleasant ways. We all really wanted to improve for him.” Bradley Archer (Sir Anthony Absolute)

“It was fun to think that this show was always evolving—even during performances. I would constantly come off stage with new insights about my character, relationships, new connections with the language, new tactics I wanted to play with. It was exciting and challenging to think that I could continually delve deeper into the role, the play, and my technique.” Katie Cheely (Lucy)

The Rivals, for me, was not just a culminating theatrical experience; it was a confirmation of the ministry that God has called me to. Having different elements such as Mrs. Malaprop's age, the period and style of the piece, and a plethora of malaprops to remember and enforce, presented me with a choice. I could either cower in fear of all of the challenges, or I could use that same energy to get to know this wonderful character and share her with the audience. I first had to believe that God had equipped me for this role. So, in addition to a tremendously talented cast, faithful and encouraging director, and an amazing script, I was blessed to conquer my fear of failure and celebrate the beauty and mystery of this art with those on and offstage. I'll never forget this experience!” Christina Browder (Thesis role: Mrs. Malaprop)

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