February 18-20, 24-26, 7:00 p.m.
Loeb Experimental Theater
Directed by Ali R. Leskowitz ’11
Produced by Bryce J. Gilfillian ’12 and Elizabeth J. Krane ’11
“I really like stage violence, and this has a lot of it,” says Crimson arts editor Ali R. Leskowitz ’11 when asked about her experience directing “Howie the Rookie,” an upcoming Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club production of Mark O’Rowe’s play. Opening on February 18 in the Experimental Theater of the Loeb Drama Center, the dark comedy hopes to be a bloodbath of sorts, entertaining, moving, and shocking audience members who dare enter the Dublin underworld.
The two-man play centers on the lives of opposing gang members, Howie Lee (Adam J. Conner ’14) and Rookie Lee (Peter K. Bestoso ’14), who happen to have the same last name but no relation. Howie delivers the first half of the story via monologue, and Rookie continues it in the second half; the play features no dialogue, and the two characters interact only in choreographed fight scenes. “The play is like two individual performances that then come together to be one comprehensive whole,” says Conner.
While Leskowitz has the challenge of staging what—based strictly on the script—could be a completely motionless, prop-less play, she hopes to stay true to what she calls the “heart of theater”: storytelling. “[The play] is a story about surprising connections and friendships between people,” she says. “It’s about guilt and redemption,” Bestoso adds.
In addition to memorizing extensive lines with few actor cues, the two freshmen leads have also mastered Irish accents and practiced visceral fight choreography ranging from dives to punches to chokes. To top it off, the show promises to populate the black box theater with the junkyard detritus of what Conner calls the “projects of Ireland,” including graffiti, discarded tires, barricades, and unconventional seating.
By the end of the show, Leskowitz says, “audiences should be a little scared and also a little sad.” Producer Bryce J. Gilfillian ’12 agrees; “the play is simultaneously badass and groundbreaking. We’re doing awesome things that haven’t been done during my time at Harvard,” he says.