The theater is nearly empty as the actors prepare for their scene. The room is so quiet that backstage whispers can be heard from the seats.
“Act two scene one,” shouts Director Mark Owsley from his fourth-row seat. “Go.”
The actors get into character and rehearse their scene. Owsley watches silently, as the actors walk across the living room set reciting their lines. The scene is soon cut short when an actor walks onto set too early. “Let’s take it from the top,” Owsley says, and the actors return to their places.
This is just one of many rehearsals for the Clark theater department’s Fall production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”The comedy, by Christopher Durang, follows bickering middle-aged brother and sister Vanya and Sonia, who are visited by their movie-star sister Masha and her new younger boyfriend,Spike.
Owsley is no stranger to Durang’s plays, having directed Clark’s production of Durang’s “Beyond Therapy” last Fall.“I really appreciate Durang’s sense of humor and his style,” Owsley said. Not only is Owsley directing, but he is also the set designer for the play.
The play takes place in a farmhouse, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that Vanya and Sonia inherited from their parents. Owsley researched early-20thcentury farmhouses as inspiration for the set design.
When it comes to making the play the best it can be, “everybody’s involved,” Owsley said.
That sentiment is shared by costume designer Kim Forbes. “We all have a team mentality,” Forbes said. “If people aren’t willing to be team players, it can make the dynamic really difficult.” Forbes worked with Owsley to make sure the costumes matched the characters by studying the script and shopping at local thrift stores for clothes. Forbes said that she worked with Owsley throughout the costume making process, photographing finished
costumes and sharing them for his input. Forbes said that she also takes the actors’ comfort level into consideration when designing their costumes.
With costume fittings and rehearsals, actress Madison Harris admits that preparation can get stressful. “You hit a point where all of a sudden everything needs to get done,”Harris said. “It’s not all happy days, you have a few weeks of just panic.”
Harris plays the character of Nina, an aspiring actress and younger niece of Vanya, Sonia and Masha. Harris is currently taking theater classes at Clark with drama professor Gene Biby.
Biby is familiar with directing plays at Clark, and directed last Winter’s production of “Avenue Q.” But this time he’s making an appearance onstage as Vanya. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to take off the director’s hat,” Biby said.
With Biby’s experience on stage, he said he didn’t feel stressed about his role, except for a five-page monologue that he had to memorize for his part. “That’s pressure,” Biby said.
Matt Brown, who plays Spike, amount of hard work being put into the production, Harris hopes that audiences don’t feel like they’ve wasted their evening. “I hope they have a good time,” she said. Owsley wants audiences to feel better than they way they came in.
“With this cantankerous election season, I just hope students can come in and just forget about everything and see a very funny show,” Owsley said.