Hobart and William Smith Colleges - One-Act Plays Open in McDonald Theatre
The HWS Update
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One-Act Plays Open in McDonald Theatre

The HWS Department of Theatre presents an evening of one-act plays, running Thursday, Feb. 13 and Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Audiences will enjoy a performance of Isle of Slaves by Pierre de Marivaux then view Aria Da Capo by Pulitzer-prize winning author Edna St. Vincent Millay. Both works are directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Chris Hatch.

Gizem Husain '21 and Dom Marshall '22 rehearse Isle of Slaves. Abby Evans and Eva Catanzariti '20 stand in the background.

Gizem Husain ’21 and Dom Marshall ’22 rehearse Isle of Slaves. Abby Evans and Eva Catanzariti ’20 stand in the background.

Performances are open to the public. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the Gearan Center Box Office Feb. 12 – 14 from 3 – 5 p.m.

Written during the Enlightenment period, Isle of Slaves is a French play set on “Slave Island” in Ancient Greece, a place where masters and slaves exchange clothes, names and roles.

The HWS Theatre Department’s performance of Isle of Slaves is also the premiere of a new translation by Gretty Hollister ’20. A double major in Theatre and French and Francophone Studies, Hollister completed the translation as part of her Honors project, which Hatch says, catalyzed his decision to bring the performance to life on the McDonald stage.

“I have always wanted to work with a student on a translation. I’m also a big fan of Marivaux. So when Gretty told me she wanted to translate Isle of Slaves as an honors project, I told her that I’d not only be her honors advisor, I’d direct the translation as part of the 2019-2020 theatre season,” says Hatch, a member of the faculty since 2010.

As a final stage of the translation process, Hollister kept her script fluid during the first two weeks of rehearsals. As the director and cast worked with the material, and identified portions of the text that needed additional clarity, Hollister made changes to her work and distributed new scripts.

Gianna DeVita '21 and Abby Evans '23 rehearse Aria Da Capo.

Gianna DeVita ’21 and Abby Evans ’23 rehearse Aria Da Capo.

During the Frame/Works event before the Friday run of the show, Hollister will discuss the challenges associated with translation. Associate Professor of Theater Chris Woodworth will join Hollister for the conversation. The talk, titled “Oh the Humanity! Redefining 18th Century Humanity in a 21st Century Script” will take place on Friday, Feb. 14 at 4:30-5:30 p.m. in Williams 201.

The second one-act play, Aria Da Capo, is a quirky, dark comedy that interrogates who truly holds power in society. The piece was first performed by the Provincetown Players during their 1919-2020 season.

“Both of these plays are influenced by commedia dell’Arte, and both interrogate class inequality,” says Hatch, who trained with Commedia dell’Arte teacher and mask maker Antonio Fava in Italy in 2011. The influence of the Italian comedy form also calls back to the spring performance of a Servant of Two Masters.

Both performances have a cast of five actors. Isle of Slaves features: Eva Catanzariti ’20, Abby Evans ’21, Gizem Husain ’21, Dom Marshall ’22 and Kels Veeder ’21. Aria Da Capo actors include: Gianna DeVita ’21, Evans, Margaret “Gretty” Hollister ’20, Maria Perez ’22 and Veeder. Adrian Bayless Marr ’21 is the stage manager.

“I have two actors who are in both performances, and then everyone else is a part of the production team for the other play. Some of them will literally be working behind the scenes in costume because the transition between the two plays happens very quickly,” Hatch says, emphasizing that training behind the scenes will prepare many of his students for careers in smaller ensembles, that often require a certain amount of theatrical versatility, after graduation.

Following the Friday performance, audience members are invited to participate in a post-show talkback with members of the cast and creative team.

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