ACU Theatre’s upcoming productions of [title of show] and Metamorphoses both feature unique sets that will challenge the casts and creative teams as well as enhance the shows for audience members.
The musical [title of show] will have the audience seated on stage with the cast, while the play Metamorphoses will feature a pool as the centerpiece of the set.
Michael Duran, technical director for the Department of Theatre, designed the set for [title of show] and will be directing Metamorphoses.
“The play is about two guys writing a play. It goes all over the place so it couldn’t really be too definitive of a setting,” said Duran of [title of show]. “We’ve taken everybody in the the audience and put them on the stage, put them in the theatre themselves, so the whole theme about being in the theatre becomes literal in the audience. -. It just gets a bit more personal.”
To bring the audience into the action, seating platforms had to be built on the stage in Fulks Theatre. Gary Varner, professor of theatre, said the main challenge in this is ensuring the platforms are strong enough to support the audience.
“You’re basically building a theatre,” Varner said.
Because the seating platforms bring the audience so close to the performers, cast members had to make adjustments to their vocal performance. Matthew Silar, junior acting and directing major from Chicago, Ill., plays Hunter in [title of show].
“The hardest part for us has been projection and sound mixing,” Silar said. “Fulks Theatre is built for [outward] performance, and by bringing the audience up on the stage we have to perform in ways that aren’t customary to the space.”
According to Silar, the fly loft above the stage absorbs much of the sound.
“We have worked really hard on projecting and being able to sing out so everyone can hear us and [we] remain in good vocal health,” Silar said.
The cast will also be using microphones to resolve this issue. Tommy Fogle, senior theatre tech major from Abilene, configured speakers on the stage.
Metamorphoses, directed by Duran, is a Tony award-nominated play based on the myths of Ovid. The play will feature a pool as the focal point of the set. Duran said because a running theme of the play is the metamorphoses of water, the pool is essential. Varner collaborated with Duran on the design.
“He had some images he really wanted to work on, so I worked with those images and that’s what really set the show,” Varner said.
Varner also noted the lighting design by Fogle will contribute to the show’s look.
“These are ancient Greek stories. It has to feel very ethereal, very otherworldly, but at the same time very now and very here,” Fogle said. “Its going to be a very lighting-heavy show.”
Fogle will be lighting the water of the pool directly.
“It doesn’t need to be trashy at all. I’m looking to make it look clean,” Fogle said.
The lighting will also contribute to special effects throughout the show, such as actors appearing out of thin air and emerging from the pool.
“Hopefully the audience will jump a little bit if I do my job right. It’s very much a magic act…. It’s gonna be a challenge. This is by far the most intense lighting show I’ve ever done,” Fogle said.
Duran, who has designed previous productions of the play, said the water presents the challenge of flexibility.
“You almost block the show in your mind and hope it will work. Then when the water comes in you have to let things go,” Duran said. “And then really great things you never even thought about come up because of the water.”
Cast member Tyler Hazard, sophomore acting major from Spring, echoed concerns about this challenge.
“We don’t really know what the challenges will be until we actually have the set up and running,” Hazard said.
Varner noted the technical problems the water poses.
“The temperature of the room is around 70 degrees. The water needs to be about 85 degrees,” Varner said.
Varner said the theatre department purchased an above ground heater, the most expensive element of the show, that will keep the water warm during the day and be turned off for performances.
Not only is the temperature of the water a concern, but also the temperature of the theatre itself.
“I’m wondering how cold Culp [Theatre] will be once we’re all soaked,” Hazard said.
However, Hazard also said the pool will enhance the experience for patrons.
“The water just adds that extra something that pulls the audience into the world and story we are trying to show. It will be a visually mesmerizing show,” he said.
Both shows are sure to offer different experiences to audience members. However, theatregoers should act fast to purchase their tickets.
“[Both shows] are selling out rapidly,” Varner said.
[title of show] will show February 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23 in while Metamorphoses will show February 28 and March 1-2. Tickets can be purchased online at acu.edu/theatre or by calling the box office at 674-2787.