Hi everyone! It’s been a whole semester since I’ve blogged, but I’m very happy to come back to it. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mary, I’m a sophomore theatre major with a minor in women’s and gender studies, and this semester, I am one of two dramaturgs for Mad Forest, directed by Beth Schachter.
Mad Forest: a Play from Romania was written by British playwright Caryl Churchill as a response to the Romanian Revolution of 1989. During the revolution, the people of Romania overthrew their long-time leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, and executed him and his wife Elena, marking the end of the Socialist Republic of Romania. The play’s three acts chronicle what life was like before, during, and after the revolution. The first and third acts follow the stories of two families, the Vladu and the Antonescu, before and after the communist regime, and how their lives and relationships change, and not necessarily for the better. The second act, known as the December section; tells the experiences of an entirely different set of characters during the revolution itself in Bucharest, Romania’s capital.
Now you’re all caught up on what Mad Forest is all about, I can explain what my job is on the project. A dramaturg can serve a variety of functions, but my job is to help the cast understand the context of play by doing research on everything they would need to know in order to fully inhabit their characters and the world they live in. So for Mad Forest, Josh (the other dramaturg), Dr. Schachter, the two assistant directors (Ariel and Zach), and I have been researching various aspects of the Romanian Revolution. My specific areas of focus are religion in Romania and Elena Ceausescu, the wife of Nicolae. In addition to presenting my research to the cast, I’m helping the actors conduct their own research to assist them in developing their characters.
We started full-time rehearsals this week, beginning with a second read-through on Wednesday. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the process so far. As I write this, the actors are listening to a presentation by Josh and Ariel about the history of Romania from pre-history right up to the Revolution. I had to give my presentation on Wednesday, and I was extremely nervous, but the cast has been nothing but supportive and interested in what we have to say. After I finished, I answered their questions, and was surprised with how easily I was able to respond. When I’m not presenting, most of my time is spent tracking down sources for actors and looking for answers to questions that come up in rehearsal. I’m learning so much about a period of time and a world that I wasn’t terribly familiar with before, and I do truly enjoy helping a production get on its feet.
That’s all from me for now! Here’s the link to the presentation I gave to the cast, so if you’d like, you can learn a little more about Romania.