Wednesday, November 5, 2014

URSP Student Rebecca Wahls Aims to Make Dido, Queen of Carthage Accessible to Both Contemporary Actors and Audiences

I want to be a theatrical director. A strange career goal, perhaps, but one that I am honestly passionate about.

The world of theater is constantly at war with itself. It’s a battle of new versus old— do we put on an edgy new play about sexually frustrated teenagers with rock show lighting…or just do A Midsummer Night’s Dream (again)?

I personally believe that you can do both at the same time. This drew me to Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage, a play published in 1594 that tells the mythological story of the Queen’s tragic love affair with Trojan warrior Aeneas. This is a great, classic story that still deserves to be told today; my goal is to make this text, written entirely in iambic pentameter, accessible to both contemporary actors and audiences. My adaptation will be tested with the School of Theater’s performance of the play in November.

I have spent countless hours over the weeks reading the text, making cuts, marking unfamiliar words and phrases, researching classical references…I have so far cut out twenty pages’ worth of material, including two entire scenes. It’s a delicate process. I must constantly be aware of the play as an entity. I could (and almost have) accidentally omitted moments that are integral to character arcs later on. A single strike of the “delete” key could alter a character’s entire being.

Just this morning, I met with the production lighting designer. We discussed how to create a forest with light in a non-literal way. After much thought, it hit me—the massive columns on the set could easily be trees when lit a certain way. The collaborative nature of theater allows for constant, often daily, discovery.