"Wordplays" comes to the Adams Pool this week.
Oct. 18-20 8:00 p.m.,
Oct. 21 2:00p.m.
Directed by Nathan O. Hilgartner ‘14
Produced by Sasha G. Mironov ‘13
“I bet you get a lot of tail working the schizophrenic circuit.” So observes a waitress who is being pestered by a cocktail-swigging Princeton reject who thinks he’s the reincarnation of F. Scott Fitzgerald in “And One Fine Morning,” one of the three one-act plays that makes up “Wordplays,” a new production written and directed by Nathan O. Hilgartner ’14, a Crimson arts editor.
True to its name, “Wordplays” is a suite of plays dealing with humanity’s complex relationship with language. Hilgartner sees the building of identity through how we communicate to each other as a common theme throughout the show. “[‘Wordplays’] is really about how…we build ourselves textually. It runs this route from childhood to death, focused around the identity that comes out of text,” Hilgartner says. “All of these characters are constantly trying to figure out who they are with this act of creating something.”
For the modern-day Fitzgerald (Matthew J. Bialo ’15), this act of creation involves narrating a third-person story in real time about his ongoing interactions with the waitress (Danielle T. Lessard ’16), which simultaneously intrigues and repulses her. For a lonely gravedigger (Joshua G. Wilson ’13) in “The Necropolis,” the final play in the show, creation means spinning rhapsodic fictions to himself about the long-dead tenants of the cemetery he maintains.
“A lot of the discussion about how [Wilson] should approach this character has been metaphysical—whether he’s actually human or...a metaphysical phenomenon having to do with death and inscription and memory. It’s very dark,” says Hilgartner.
The first play in the set, “Block,” follows two kindergartners (Bialo and Lessard) who construct a “racetrack of death” out of blocks during their playtime, which eventually leads to one of them experiences an existential crisis about the fate of their fictional world. Stage Manager Matthew B. Barrieau ’16 says that the show’s status as a student-written, ultra-small production has made the the production’s development more collaborative. “There have definitely been a few rewrites along the way. It’s been interesting to see the way [the actors and producers] have gotten involved in that,” he says.
However, the irony of actors tweaking and adding to their characters’ identities in a show about constructing identity through language hasn’t been lost on Barrieau.
“It’s all very meta.”
—William E. Holub-Moorman