Villanova's EVERYMAN with a Twist to Open 11/12
Modern meets medieval in Villanova Theatre's production of Everyman, directed by Rev. David Cregan, OSA and on stage November 12 - 24, 2013. Cregan has chosen to emphasize the universality of the tale, bringing the production solidly into the here and now with contemporary language and modern design.
Mark J. Costello, an alumnus of the Villanova Master's in Theatre Program, was commissioned to translate the fifteenth century morality play from Old English into a more current vernacular in order to make the text as accessible as possible for today's audiences. According to Costello, "It's an incredible honor that my alma mater supports my work so tangibly and deeply, and it is a privilege to work with them on this unique and challenging creative endeavor."
Believed to have been written in the mid- to late 15th century (the exact date and author are unknown), Everyman serves as a moral guide for the masses. In the Middle Ages, sometimes referred to as the "Age of Faith," the Roman Catholic Church was at the center of life in Western Europe, and the vast majority of people believed in a sovereign God as well as an afterlife where the soul lives on after the death of the body.
Morality plays were originally used as an educational tool to reach the illiterate masses via public performance. The goal of the morality play was to show the audience that, even though their lives may be full of sin, there is always time to repent and save one's soul. Everyman, one of only five plays to survive the Middle Ages, takes the audience on a journey through the final hours of the eponymous Everyman, who represents all of mankind, and must answer to God for all the good and evil deeds he committed in his life. This allegorical tale weaves together poetry, music, and movement, bringing humanity's greatest moral questions vividly to live in our own time.
In what might be considered an unconventional casting choice, Cregan has cast Everyman as a woman. The role will be played by first-year scholar Hallie Martenson. According to Cregan, "The beauty of this play is that its message and values travels through history from the 15th century up to today with ease. Along the way it accumulates the particularities of every ages and our production explores this reality, including pop music, punk fashion and even a little gender-bending!"
In addition to the gender-bending, Cregan's production will blend the old with the new, as Top 40 hits and medieval spiritual hymns combine to create the soundscape for this otherworldly adventure. Christine Nass, a seasoned opera singer as well as the Assistant Director of Music Activities for Villanova University, will serve as the Music Director for Villanova Theatre's production of Everyman, which will feature everything from Mozart to Lady Gaga.
Villanova brings this new translation to life with the help of a talented team of designers, including two outstanding graduate students: Courtney Boches (Costume Design) and Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall (Scenic Design). Boches' symbolic costumes will fuse elements of punk rock and haute couture, in a design scheme that emphasizes the fleeting nature of fashion, trend, and ultimately, human life. Schmitt-Hall's elemental set design may resemble a cruciform to some, a runway to others, and boasts an eleven-foot tall skate ramp that will be used by actors throughout the performance. These student designs are supported by the work of Jerold Forsyth (Lighting Design), John Stovicek (Sound Design), and Brie Knight (Dramaturg).
Cregan directs a cast of dynamic and multi-faceted performers including Villanova scholars Hallie Martensen (Everyman), Mitchell Bloom (Death), Christine Petrini (Good-Deeds) and Peter Andrew Danzig (Cousin); graduate students Matt Basden (Five Wits), John Baxter (Confession), Victoria Rose Bonito (Goods), Lauren Fanslau (Kindred), John Hala (Five Wits), Jill Jacobs (Knowledge), Christen Mandracchia (Five Wits), Mikal Odom (Five Wits), Julia Salvo (Five Wits), Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall (Fellowship), Emily Poworoznek (Beauty), and Meghan Winch (Angel), and undergraduate students Austin Haitos (Strength) and Brendan Farrell (Discretion).
Villanova's re-imagined Everyman takes the audience on a spectacular, yet emotional journey through the contradictions, wants and failures of one person, creating a piece that is a joyous celebration of humanity, and a triumph of physical theatre. Everyman translator Mark J. Costello will join the director, cast, and crew for Speaker's Night immediately following the November 21st performance, in addition to special guest speaker Dr. Michael Tomko (see bio information below).