October 24, 2008

Christine Reynolds ’11 Takes to the Stage

English major writes about her behind-the-scenes role in Provincetown Players Five

As part of her EXCEL research project, English major Christine Reynolds ’11 (Sewickley, Pa.) served as stage manager for College Theater’s production of Provincetown Players Five under the guidance of Michael O’Neill, associate professor of English and director of theater.

  • College Theater Presents Provincetown Players Five

One of my dreams is to teach high school English and hopefully direct the school’s drama productions. As a sophomore at Lafayette College, I am planning to earn an English degree, and I’m working to become certified in secondary education. To become certified, I am required to take an education course only offered during the interim break. However, with my dream in mind, and never one to be caught standing still, I contacted Professor Michael O’Neill, who I had worked with last year on his production of 365 Days/365 Plays. I met with Professor O’Neill, explained my situation, and asked if he would need student assistance with anything over the break.

I can honestly say that I am amazed by the amount of incredible opportunities I’ve encountered in the brief time I’ve spent on such a small campus. Among these opportunities is the EXCEL Scholars program, which Professor O’Neill proposed. After discussing the details, we concluded that I would assist with his fall drama production, and then I would complete research for him over interim.

The first half of my EXCEL work was stage-managing the production of Provincetown Players Five, which Professor O’Neill directed. When I first read the script and knew we would be performing theater in the round, I was very curious to see how we would perform it. For example, there were what seemed to be hundreds of different voices and noises coming from everywhere in “The Widow’s Veil,” and the last piece titled “In the Zone” included a magnitude of violence that can be very difficult to present with such close proximity to the audience.

However, once rehearsals began, I could clearly see that Professor O’Neill and his production staff had a vision and knew how to execute it. As an EXCEL Scholar, I was able to work closely with the production staff, which included the lighting, sound, scenic, and costume designers, all of whom were hired professionals. Although I had worked briefly with the production staff last year for 365 Days/365 Plays, I now played a greater role in communicating with them, including attending the production meetings. At these meetings, we attentively reviewed each scene in the show, careful to mark and discuss any production factor such as light changes, sound cues, and props. Through my EXCEL experience, I was able to witness how to conquer tricky theater elements, such as violence and character accents.

After being so closely involved with the rehearsals, I soon realized that I was able to look at scripts from the perspective of a director. When I read plays for my English courses, I found the newly acquired ability to interpret characters through their dialogue and stage directions, to visualize the scene on stage, and to imagine what choices I would make if I were producing the drama. Thus far, my EXCEL research has given me an in-depth look at the theater and the demands of running a production. I’m really looking forward to working with Professor O’Neill over the interim break and further expanding my understanding of theater.

  • English
  • Theater
  • EXCEL/Undergraduate Research

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