The spring productions of The College of Wooster Department of Theatre and Dance include a presentation of Blind Date, directed by Shirley Huston-Findley, professor of theatre and dance, and the Spring Dance Concert, directed by Emily Baird, assistant professor of theatre and dance. The link for the Zoom presentation, Tuesday, April 27 at 8 p.m., is available here.
Blind Date, a one-act play by Manjula Padmanabhan, an Indian playwright, was recently published in an anthology by Shirley Huston-Findley called Disparate Voices of Indian Women Playwrights: Creating a Profession. Huston-Findlay, professor of theatre and dance at Wooster, directs this spring’s production featuring a motivated cast and production crew of Wooster students. In addition to the Zoom screening on Tuesday, a recording of the play will be part of a Festival of Works by Manjula hosted by the Prakriti Foundation. Padmanabhan’s Blind Date is a creative mixture of absurdism and theatricality that asks of its readers/performers: “What is choice?” “What is free will?” and, “What does it mean to be an individual when hampered by a lack of individuality?” The play introduces the audience to two sets of mixed-gender, conjoined triplets who, while struggling in their shared body also wrestle with these philosophical questions from their unique if not realistic perspective.
The play follows Annie, played by Claire Alderfer ’24, Buddy, played by Rickey Cooper ’22, and Candy, played by Brianna Lyman ’23, the first conjoined triplets as they wait for their blind date with a second set of conjoined triplets. The impossible “multi-plet” engage in an inescapable, unrelenting, and provocative sibling argument regarding free choice—or the denial of choice, which is in itself a choice—as well as the pros and cons of “freedom to” versus “freedom from,” the desire for personal pronouns, and even the possibility of revenge upon one another by not allowing the two shared arms to work together to accomplish everyday tasks. When their blind date does arrive, they have much to be grateful for, not the least of which is the love they have for one another despite their inability to truly form individual and independent selves. Unlike the first “multi-plet,” Eks, played by Louis Schwartz ’21; Why, played by Megan Fisher’21, and Zee, played by Patrick Estell ’24 consist of one very loud, obnoxious, and sexually motivated, female, middle sibling who, unlike Buddy, appears to be in total control of her dimwitted and at times even grotesque brothers on either side.
The production team for Blind Date includes Stage Manager Cat Moreschi ’22, Co-Graphic Designers Naoko Skala, assistant professor of theatre and Patrick Wellman, Costume Designer Suwatana Rockland, Lighting Designer Michael Schafer; and Props Manager and Sound Designer Naoko Skala. Kate Joseph ’22 and Victoria Silva ’23 served as assistant stage managers and Teresa Ascencio ’23, Audrey Klosterman ’23, Kate Joseph ’22, and Diana Tobin ’24, as assistant costume designers.
This semester’s Spring Dance Concert features a diverse collection of pieces choreographed by students in the College’s Dance Company. The concert also features two pieces directed by Emily Baird, visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance. While the majority of pieces were performed and filmed on Freedlander Stage, several others were filmed at other campus locations. An exciting visual and auditory display, the concert features student creativity in the areas of lighting design, costuming, and music and video editing. The choreography covers a variety of styles, from modern to hip hop to ballet and contemporary.
Like last semester, this concert has been adapted for virtual viewing. All pieces were rehearsed and performed while observing strict health and safety guidelines, and no outside audience was present. Production credits include Stage Manager Jaz Nappier, Costume Designer Suwatana Rockland, Light Plot by Mike Schafer, and Lighting Designer and Master Electrician Patrick Wellman. Olivia Kline and Iván Mreis served as assistant stage managers. As director, Baird led videography and Stephanie Castrejón completed final video editing.
The cast included Reyka VanSickle ’21, Estelle Dowling ’21, Elyse Evans ’21, Joelle Lau ’21, Olivia Kline ’22, Iván Mreis ’22, Nicole Preucil ’22, Sarah Brunot ’23, Gracie Shreve ’23, Morgan Carson ’23, Katherine Shelmidine ’23, Zoe Seymore ’23, and Abby Aitken ’24, with VanSickle, Dowling, Mreis, and Preucil also acting as choreographers.
Pieces preformed include “Cut/Paste,” choreographed by Emily Baird, “Espérer,” choreographed by Estelle Dowling, “Unauthorized Stories of Average College Students Part 2: Subtext of ‘Oh We’re Just Friends’” choreographed by Reyka VanSickle, “Party of One” choreographed by Olivia Kline, “Like Clockwork” choreographed by Nicole Preucil, “Unauthorized Stories of Average College Students Part 3: Rager with the Buds” choreographed by Reyka VanSickle, “Canned Swan” choreographed by Iván Mreis, and “The Wave” choreographed by Emily Baird.
Above image is a compilation of the cast and crew of Blind Date in one image prepared by Naoko Skala, assistant professor of theatre and dance.