Drama students create “The Illusion”
Posted on March 17, 2015 by Christopher Thrall
The Camrose Canadian caught up with students performing “The Illusion” this weekend.
Fitting into the University of Alberta Augustana’s 2015 theme of “illusion’” the drama department will be performing The Illusion March 12-21.
Adapted by American playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner from a 17th century comedy, L’Illusion Comique by Pierre Corneille, the play follows a guilt ridden lawyer searching for his son, whom he banished years before. After trying every means he can think of, he reaches out to a magician who proceeds to show the lawyer different scenes from his son’s life.
Chosen by drama professor Kevin Sutley, the two hour long production is sure to make audiences laugh, while also surprising them with many twists.
“The first time I read the script, I put it down because what happened was not what I expected,” said assistant director Becca Scott about her reaction to the play.
When looking for a play, Sutley tries to keep in mind the number of actors he has available and The Illusion matched perfectly with both the university’s theme as well as the number of actors it calls for.
“We like to give as many students as possible an opportunity. This play matched perfectly with the theme and it provided enough parts that we got to give a lot of people a part in the production,” he said.
As to what the crew has found most enjoyable about rehearsals and piecing together the end product, a fight scene generated excitement, not only as a favourite scene, but also as a scene that was difficult to make a reality.
“We don’t have students who study fencing, so it becomes a question of how do you stage a sword fight with people who are non fencers, and you could just pick up swords and get some training, but that’s a lot of hours and a lot of time,” said Sutley.
The solution was simply to use the audience’s imagination to bring the scene to life.
“With the size of our stage, [swords] would be kind of difficult, so instead we’re just using space,” explained stage manager Elise Houle.
Another enjoyable part of the process as opening night draws closer has been doing “an Italian,” which consists of players running through their lines and blocking as quickly as possible, which has resulted in stumbled lines and some amusing moments for the group.
For Vince Major, who plays antagonist Adraste, being able to work with a Kushner script has been the highlight of the project.
“I think my favourite part is that I’ve never worked with a Tony Kushner script before, so I’ve never been able to use his dialogue before,” he said.
“Part of what he does is parody the flowery language of that time by giving some of the characters really ridiculous, fun language. That’s definitely one of the fun things. The language is enjoyable,” Sutler explained, with Houle adding that one of the characters spends most of her lines speaking in couplets.
Sutler expects that the play will be well received, by both Augustana and the community.
“It’s a lot of fun. I think that’s what people are going to come away with. Not only is there a lot of fun to be had for the audience – there’s a lot of humour – but the play really plays with audience’s expectations. I think some people will enjoy the surprise that the play provides.”
The Illusion will be performed at the Augustana Theatre Centre from March 18 to 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
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