BWW Previews: LORD OF THE FLIES Gets an Unexpected Makeover at Oklahoma City University's BURG THEATRE
Jess here. I don't often have the opportunity to preview plays, but I was recently invited to sit in on Oklahoma City University's rehearsal of "Lord of the Flies." This particular version of the 1954 novel by William Golding has been adapted by Nigel Williams, and will be presented with a bit of an unexpected twist. In order to explain the idea responsible for fueling this revision of Golding's original work, some back-story may be helpful. A little known fact by those unfamiliar with Oklahoma City University is that this school is well versed in the art of Miss AmErica Pageantry, and proudly celebrates three members of their alumni who have worn the crown. This trio is enshrined on campus with life-size bronze statues representing them proudly displayed in OCU's Kerr-McGee Centennial Plaza. Additionally, there is also a "Hall of Queens" located in the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center that features photographs of all of the OCU participants who have competed for the title over the years. In order to pay homage to this aspect of OCU's longstanding affiliation with pageant history, rather than presenting "Lord of the Flies" with the usual group of marooned British schoolboys, this production will feature an all-female cast of, yes - you guessed it, pageant queens stranded on an island; complete with sashes and evening wear. This production is a collaboration with Oklahoma Children's Theatre, and will feature a cast of characters named for their hometown pageant's location; from Alabama to Massachusetts to Virginia, and beyond.
I was able to speak with the show's director, Kate Brennan, Assistant Professor of Voice and Acting at OCU's School of Theatre, about the sixteen women who comprise the production's cast. "We are excited to give this many female students roles. It's hard for girls to find opportunities in theatre," Brennan says. This show will provide the actors with a chance to play iconic roles in a nurturing setting. Brennan also used an interesting technique for this production, where scripts weren't handed out until the second week of rehearsal. Dialogue was rehearsed through a line feeding strategy, and required the cast members to whisper the lines to the person involved in the scene. This technique forced the actors to forge a connection with their scene partner, as opposed to relying on the script.
This ensemble has been hard at work for only three weeks thus far, but has already meshed to put together an incredible show. Some of the group's tight-knit bonding is thanks to member participation in team-building exercises, along with yoga at the beginning of each rehearsal. Additional research was undertaken by the cast by getting together to watch the Miss America competition. In order to really bring it home and get in sync with the mindset of portraying a pageant queen, the cast also had the great opportunity to work with recently crowned Miss OCU 2017, Camryn Sanders, who shared some helpful secrets and taught them about the valuable art of display.
This must-see version of "Lord of the Flies" runs from October 26-28, 2017 at the Burg Theatre in Oklahoma City University's Fine Arts Center. For more information or ticket sales, please visit https://www.okcu.edu/theatre/theatreocu
"Lots of madmen have had their say- but only for a day." -Stephen Sondheim