February 12, 2010

Reflections from the Cast of "The Elephant Man"

“One thing I learned from John Merrick was how his experience of pain generated in him an incredible desire for something transcendental. St. Phillip’s is a symbol of eternal beauty, and heaven is where the crooked shall be made straight. There is a spiritual blessing in playing Merrick in that I am reminded of my own complacency. If somehow the deep cry of 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven' is no longer in me, I am in danger of not living life as it is intended to be.” -Shinn-Rong Chung, 3rd year MFA student (John Merrick, thesis role).

“I feel very blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful and memorable production. I think we all were very disappointed to have to end the show early due to the snow storm. I heard from many people that they thought Elephant Man was perhaps one of the best shows Regent has ever done--high praise indeed. Everyone in the cast was so talented and suited to their parts. As a Pinhead and Nurse Sandwich, I got to explore two very different characters. The challenge was fun and exciting. On the one hand I got to experience a completely child-like side, which was a lot of fun. Then as Nurse Sandwich I had to become a stern, no-nonsense rock of a woman. The challenge added to the excitement. And I loved having to do quick-changes. During our final dress rehearsal I forgot to take my pin-head shoes off (which happened to be ballet toe shoes) when I went on as Nurse Sandwich. I wondered as I ran to my place why my skirt was feeling longer than normal. I didn't realize till I was entering in the dark, 'I've still got my toe shoes on!' I quickly debated whether it was better to wear toe shoes, or no shoes. I decided toe shoes. After that I was reminded each day by the ladies in my dressing room to change my shoes! All-in-all… The Elephant Man is one show I won't soon forget.” -Sharon Eyster, 2nd year MFA student (Nurse Sandwich and Pinhead)

“Working on Elephant Man was an amazing experience. Every moment of the rehearsal process, I felt like I was in the presence of master craftsmen - highly focused, intent on every detail, and determined to produce a polished jewel of a production. It was such a privilege to work with Dr. Kirkland, and to support Shinn and Brad in their thesis roles. As I journeyed with Mrs. Kendal on her path from external facade to internal truth, I also made discoveries about my own truth as an actor, and about how genuine human connection onstage can touch an audience like nothing else can.” –Amy Dunlap, 1st year MFA student (Mrs. Kendal)

“Working on The Elephant Man was a particularly thought-provoking experience. The process of building these characters to most effectively convey the message of this piece took a great deal of focus and patience. Dr. Kirkland's commitment to precision was complimented by Shinn and Brad's diligence in their leading roles as well as the work of the supporting cast. The overwhelmingly positive response from the few audiences that saw our show made the weeks of tireless rehearsing all worth it. It was one of the most complete shows I've been a part of.” –Andy Geffken, 2nd year MFA student (Carr Gomm)

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