Senior show tackles offbeat one-acts

An all-time high of 24 actors and three directors used their Senior Spring Project (SSP) on May 24 to put on a variety of plays: Arthur Kopit’s The Day the Whores Came Out to Play Tennis; three shorter one-act plays from David Ives’ collection, Lives of the Saints; and Jean-Claude van Itallie’s Interview.

The Day the Whores Came Out to Play Tennis, in which a country club committee tries to get 16 women off the club’s tennis courts, opened the senior show. Following that were the Lives of the Saints plays, in which a man buys a television for a friend, two pairs of lookalikes try to find their identities, and the trip-planning of a woman at a travel agency takes a surprise twist. Interview closed out the show, beginning with four applicants at a job interview and then diving into each of the applicants’ lives.

Directors Jeremy Tang, Caroline Scheer, and Avi Madsen (all ’18) chose the plays from a selection of scripts compiled for them by Drama Teacher Mark Lindberg. The cast rehearsed for two hours for four days a week during SSP, with additional rehearsals the week before the show. Mr. Lindberg said the choice to put on the three one-act plays came from the record number of actors.

“I try to find plays that will give everybody as decent a part as I can give them,” he explained. “This year we had more actors than we ever had and three people who wanted to direct. They had to be one-act plays because it’s almost impossible to find one play that gives everyone a part with interesting dialogue.” 

He added that he thought the directors did a good job working with their actors.

“I think they got really good work out of their actors, most of whom had not acted onstage at BB&N. There was a lot of new talent out there and the shows worked, so that’s a tribute to the directors,” he said.

Caroline said directing three one-acts was challenging. 

“I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was,” she said. “It probably would have been easier to pick a single, longer play, but it was really fun, and I think it was worth it.”

Caroline said she knew she wanted to direct the senior show ever since she heard about it a few years ago. Her approach to helping her actors feel comfortable in rehearsal and in their roles was to start with chill rehearsals and ease in to the acting process, she added.

“Creating an environment where they can try out new things and experiment with their characters is important,” Caroline said. “We played a lot of acting games and did read-throughs.”

Alia Rizvi ’18, who with Eliott Wallace ’18 shared the role of Bill in Enigma Variations, one of the three one-act plays from Ives’ collection, was one of the 14 performers who had never acted in a production at the school.

“I did tech for the play in middle school and costume design here, so I decided I should try it,” she said. “At first I thought, ‘This play is so weird.’ I thought we were going to do something normal, like Our Town, but we got this wacky bunch of plays.”

Even so, Alia said she had a lot of fun reading the scripts, getting to know new cast members, and coordinating her speech and actions with Eliott.

Sophia Scanlan ’18 attended the performance and said she enjoyed seeing her friends on stage, especially in Enigma Variations, performed by Eliott, Olivia Friend, Lucy Lyman, Alia, and Lucy Goldfarb. 

“I know most of them pretty well, and I thought the whole scene was hilarious, especially Lucy Goldfarb’s mustache and her attempt at a French accent!” Sophia said.       

“The acting in that scene was particularly good, too, because they all had to mimic each other exactly, and they were so in sync the whole time.”

Avi Madsen ’18, who directed Interview, said his directing style came from his experience as an actor in prior Upper School productions.

“I know what needs to be done for a play, and I know how to act,” he said. “My style of directing was to have my actors find the characters within themselves.”

Maia Pandey ’20 said she enjoyed Interview’s turn from a simple job interview to a series of chaotic scenes.

“At first the play seemed straightforward with the interview format, but it got more and more abstract, which was really cool,” she said. “I thought the best part was when most of the cast was standing on stage while one person ran around panicked. It was an emotional scene and seemed like a turning point because the play really descended into chaos after that.”

Jacqueline Sands played Jackie in The Day the Whores Came Out to Play Tennis and said she enjoyed the show as a way to spend time with her friends since most of her other SSP activities were independent.

“I got to see my friends every day and in a new environment since most of them hadn’t acted before,” she said.

Jeremy, who directed The Day the Whores Came Out to Play Tennis, said he was pleased with the work his actors put in.

“I think that we all managed to navigate it pretty well,” he said. “I was really proud of all my actors for all the hard work they put in over the past eight weeks, and I wish they could’ve seen just how great they were the nights of the show from where I was sitting.”

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