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Smoke and Bloodlines: A Night of One Acts

By Megan Bowers, For The Miami Student

'These Seven Sicknesses'

A modern take on Oedipus' tragic story

Studio 88 pulses with the sound of Marian Hill's track, "Got it." Each of the eight actors wanders aimlessly around the stage, changing their body language with each step.

The average student wouldn't understand what was going on, but this is one of the most essential parts of rehearsal.

"It's a space exploration exercise," said stage manager Sloan Kyler. "They are getting into the mindset of their characters and what they will be doing today."

This exercise has added importance when performing a classic tale like "Oedipus." Though there is a modern twist to the show, it still includes some of the ancient Greek language and much of the traumatic plot line.

"It is a real challenge performing the more intense scenes," said Jalana Phillips, a sophomore theatre major. "I have never felt the kind of pain my character feels, so it is hard to realistically portray that experience."

Phillips plays the Blind Seer, a key character in one of the most intense scenes of the show.

"Acting allows you to tell a story as someone else," said Colin Sapienza, a senior theatre major who plays Oedipus. "You are everything that character is and you have to delve into their emotions in a truthful way."

Watching their rehearsals, you can tell they do just that. When adjusting an entrance or a line in a specific scene, they think about the motivation of their character as though it is their own.

It's not just the way the lines are said that matters. Every pause is deliberate. Each moment of silence commands you to watch their every move.

This process of enhancing nonverbal cues is so tedious that it caused them to spend over 30 minutes on the first eight pages of the 33-page performance at a Tuesday night rehearsal.

"Doing only one act of a show gives you a chance to do more with every scene," Sapienza said. "You are able to make a very truthful adaption, which is challenging but definitely worth it in the end."

The modern twist on the show presented a challenge for the cast. Oedipus often talks in classic Greek verse, while other characters may speak with a modern sarcastic tone. The character of Creon, played by Kate Hendrickson, even brings out her cell phone in one scene.

"I hope the audience walks away feeling like they know the myth of Oedipus and can relate to it now," said Natasia Reinhardt, a senior theatre major who plays Jocasta. "But I know there will be shock too, seeing the play live with the child marrying his mother and all the abusive moments."

The entire cast has been preparing for the show since Sept. 1, by going to rehearsals every day except Saturday, from 7 to 11 p.m.

This quality time they have spent together has strengthened both the show and their relationships with each other. Each of the cast members is able to go from being serious in one scene, to joking with each other one second later, giving the rehearsal space a family-like feel.

The space also has a feminist atmosphere, emphasized by the fact that only one actor in the show is a male.

"I chose to cast almost all girls to reflect on how our society treats women," said student director Cara Hinh. "In the play, Oedipus makes decisions for everyone in the kingdom regardless of their feelings and this is very similar to how society treats women now. It is a timeless theme that suggests where you are affects who you are as a person."

Hinh believes that theatre is something that affects everyone and needs to be experienced.

"Theatre is an art form that unifies people," Hinh said. "There is nothing like being 10 feet from a living person and seeing them go through something so intense. It changes people and I truly believe in art that changes people."

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