An Evening of Durang and Ives: The Production Process

by Anna Augart and Giselle Wu

News

January 28, 2020

The BUA Drama Club worked hard to prepare for this year’s winter play, An Evening of Durang and Ives, which ran from January 24th to January 26th. We interviewed some of the cast and crew members about their role in the play.

Angie Zhong ’22 (production assistant)

Angie said that her role as a production assistant was to work on building props and listen to the orders of Bill, BUA’s drama teacher. For her, the biggest challenge was that the crew was very small and that the workload varied from last year. She said, “More help and interest in crew is always appreciated! We’d love to see more people help out [in future plays].”

Lizi Zhang ’20 (lighting operator)

Lizi ran lights for the play and also helped with other tech crew jobs, such as setting the stage. Lizi said, “During the show, I change the [lighting] based on the progression of the play and our preprogrammed cues, so all the actors can be lit and the light [fits] the setting of the scene.” Lizi’s favorite part of the play was tech week, the week before the first performance of a play in which all the technical elements of the play are put together. She said she has made many friends during tech weeks. “Hanging out with them outside of usual school time and working together with them toward the same goal of putting up a good show is quite a special experience,” Lizi said. To prepare for the play, she read through the script to familiarize herself with all the light cues. She also said that on performance days, she usually came an hour early to do a light check and fix any broken lights. For Lizi, the most difficult thing was dealing with all the scene changes, since this play consisted of many short one-act plays. To anyone interested in taking part in the play next year, Lizi’s advice is to talk to Bill.

Rachel Wang ’20 (actress)

Rachel played the DMV lady, Angel, and Flora. Her favorite part of the play was the opportunity to challenge herself with playing different characters. She said, “Due to the nature of short plays, I get to experience and portray vastly different personality types within one single show.” As all the short plays were comedies, Rachel told us, “I learn to present my funniest self through various angles on stage.” She said that the whole cast works together to “create a theatrical world filled with absurd wits and cheerful spirits.” To prepare for the performance, Rachel did several read-throughs of the script. Remarking on her memorization process, she said, “I dissect the lines one by one and play with different interpretations and renditions and then choose my favorite one. Once I remember the entire play, I start to really experiment with different ways to present the character. Even after the twentieth rehearsal, I’d always improvise a little on [the] spot during the twenty-first time, or even on stage.”

Something that challenged her was portraying a character who was not her age. Her own life experiences were highly different from those of these characters, resulting in her having some difficulty relating to the characters’ emotions and actions. For example, in playing one of her roles as the DMV lady, who is older and more sarcastic than herself, Rachel said she often found herself “lost in [the DMV lady’s] words and reactions.” She also had trouble not laughing at the hilarious performances of her fellow actors.

To anyone interested in taking part in the play next year, Rachel says that the commitment level isn’t excessively high, “so there’s no excuse then not to come to rehearsals on time,” and that “nobody wants to see the stage manager, who’s usually the nicest person around, reveal their darkest side.” Rachel says the most important lesson she has learned from doing theater is to always trust herself and her audience, and to “be confident on stage, for soon you’ll find yourself comfortable in the world on stage and later, surrounded by unceasing applause.” Her last piece of advice is to “cherish BUA’s loving Drama Department — you’ll miss the small, warm community very much, as I do now, as a pathetic senior.” She says to Bill, “Bill, you’re amazing, and we love you so, so much!”

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