“Iguana” Opens the Theater Season

by Tori-Amber Benavente in Campus


Entering the theater, you’re transported from the real world to a beach where the sound of ocean waves surround you.

The Clark theatre department held the last of seven performances of “The Night of the Iguana” by Tennessee Williams on Nov. 22 in Decker Theater.

“The Night of the Iguana” featured theater professor Gene Biby as the main character, Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, who is accused of statutory rape and finds himself stranded at a failing resort in Mexico, according to a description on the Clark website.

“The big metaphor in the show is the iguana; they catch this iguana, and they tie him up,” Biby said. “The show is about people being at the end of their rope and what decisions we have to make and what has to transpire for us to cut ourselves free.”

Stage manager Mark Owsley directed and created the set for the play.

The play was set at The Costa Verda, a resort that borders the ocean in Mexico.

The set featured three bedrooms, an office, a dining area and a hammock. Owsley decorated the set with plants, rocks, and dirt. Beach nets hung from the ceiling of the stage to create the outdoor atmosphere.

“I’m lucky I can design for the plays that I direct,” Owsley said. “It all congeals for me and it becomes alive when we start rehearsal.”

Audience member Clarissa Shields said, “I enjoyed the stage for the play, it was really well done and decorated nicely.”

Owsley said, “We like to take the fall play and do an American Classic, which is any play that has achieved a certain notoriety from 1945-1980.”

Shields said, “I have seen a few other plays at Clark and I thought, why not add another to my list?”

“The Night of the Iguana” appeals to Clark students and members of the community because it has lasting themes, “much like Shakespeare,” Biby said. “We keep doing Shakespeare because Shakespeare has these themes that still resonate with us.”

The mission of the drama department is education, Biby said. “The performances give our students the opportunity to engage the work by acting in the production, building the set, creating this world.”

Owsley agreed. “The students put in so much time rehearsing,” he said. “The students work four to five nights for six weeks. I got a crew of work study students that build scenery and part-time employees that also do that.”

The cast is diverse and range in ages from 18 to 60, Biby said. “But mostly they’re students; therefore, they do kind of get along.  And a lot of them knew each other before they got cast in the show, so relationships were already established.”

Biby said the crew has not had much drama. “I wouldn’t tolerate any of it. I like drama on stage; I don’t like it off stage,” Biby said.

“Iguana” is one of the three plays this year that the department will produce, Owsley said. “Our hope is that the audience takes in all three plays as a group,” he said.

Two other plays planned for next year are “The Rocky Horror Show” which will premiere in February, and “bobrauschenbergamerica” will premier in May at the Decker Theater.

Tickets for future performances are available at http://www.clarkbookstore.com/site_theatre.asp or at the theater before shows, $9 for students and $13 for non-students.

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