Loeb Experimental Theater
Directed by Natalie S. Feldman ’12
Produced by Ryan J. Smillie ’12
College students certainly understand the inevitable struggle that comes from trying to appease familial demands while following the path of self-exploration. The upcoming production of “Five Finger Exercise” in the Loeb Experimental Theater will bring to the table the classic issues of discovering oneself, but with an unexpected spotlight on the repercussions of those focused energies. This Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club production takes a deeper look at the harm done to loved ones when people focus solely on themselves.
“Five Finger Exercise” tells the story of the dysfunctional Harrington family, thrown off balance when Walter, a young German tutor, comes to live with them. After the family members attempt to manipulate the young boy for their own gain, the household begins to deteriorate and the characters realize that they do not understand each other or themselves.
“The whole family is a big power struggle, people using each other to get what they want and not really noticing the needs of everyone else,” producer Ryan J. Smillie ’12 says.
Both the director, Natalie S. Feldman ’12, and Smillie agree that Clive, the son who is desperately trying to discover his own self amidst his family’s turmoil, is likely the most relatable character for students. “It’s very easy to dismiss people because they’re different or because you can’t understand them,” Stewart N. Kramer ’12, who plays Clive, says. “I think this play encourages us to step back from our judgments and try to understand people who see the world in a different light, even though it is difficult.”
This production will also be making some adaptations to the set design from the original script, presenting the play on a tiered set to emphasize the familial divisions that define the show’s central conflict. The audience will be seated on three sides of the stage, creating a more intimate setting. “I really want it to feel very immediate to people because these are very immediate and personal issues,” Feldman says.
“The play ends on a very unresolved note,” Feldman adds. “I want the audience to leave the theater asking themselves how did this family get there, how am I like them, what am I doing to the people around me, and can I change that?”