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Student Blog: An Original Adaptation

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If you ever get the opportunity to work on a new production, you should go for it!

Student Blog: An Original Adaptation

Over the past few months, I've had the priceless opportunity to play a part in the process of creating an extremely unique, all-original play with my fellow colleagues as a student at Manhattanville College. The play was titled; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (which you may or may not recognize) with content based on the short story by Wahington Irving. It was both written and directed by one of our esteemed professors within the department of Theater. The process first initiated last spring when I auditioned for the production and, following being cast as Katrina Van Tassel, rehearsals were set to begin as soon as the fall semester started.

When I walked into the first rehearsal I went there expecting to receive a script and do a read through like I'm used to and as is common in any show, but I quickly found out that this production was going to be very different from what I had done in the past. Our director/writer told us that he was going to be writing the script while the rehearsal process went on and that we would spend the first weekend doing a workshop. In this workshop, we tried out exercises that would later be incorporated into the show and really got to know each other as a cast. Essential to these exercises was storytelling. This warmup served as a way to tell a story about love as a group. It consisted of the cast splitting in halves and was consistent in that, through each group a person would alternate speaking while the rest of that group created movements going along with the story. While watching the other group perform the exercise I was drawn to the movements that were created and found the silent relationship between the speaker and the movers to be impactful.

What made this show unique, apart from being constructed from scratch, was the fact that it was movement-based. While the narrator was describing something or if a character was telling a story, the cast would do a movement correlating with each word the speaker was saying. It was almost like choreography, or improvisation happening in real-time. Usually, a director would give the actors blocking but our director/writer liked to think of himself more as a mediator. He wrote the text but during rehearsals had us go off in small groups to create these movements. We would suggest ideas to each other and work together to create the movements. We used what we learned for the workshop activities we did. We all really learned how to collaborate and work together as a group. This is what made the show so special.

Another aspect of this production that made it so unique was that we used the whole theater, every square inch of space. Our production was not only set on the stage, it was set in the aisles, behind all the seats, and between the seats. This was to make the audience more involved in the show and I think it really worked. Luckily the seats in this theater are portable so we were able to adjust the seating for this performance so the audience wouldn't hurt their necks looking all over the place.

We received such a great response from the audience. It was great to receive such a positive response for something all of the cast and the director/writer himself put so much hard work into! We created an original production in seven weeks. Plus, it was the first live performance back at my school since the COVID-19 outbreak. Being a part of this production was such a breath of fresh air, wholesome, fun, and positive experience. This really made me see a different side to what theater can be when we forego "normal". If you ever get the opportunity to work on a new production, you should go for it!


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From This Author Student Blogger: Erica Lambert