A.C.T.'s M.F.A. Program Performs Two Powerful Plays in Repertory

By Taylor Steinbeck

Next week, A.C.T.'s first- and second-year M.F.A. Program actors take to the stage to perform two larger-than-life plays about resistance and vengeance: Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega and The Bacchae of Euripides by Wole Soyinka. Directed by Domenique Lozano and Stephen Buescher, respectively, these complex works were chosen to challenge the program's emerging actors. We spoke to some of the actors to find out how this experience has stretched their skills as performers and pushed them out of their comfort zones.

Show artwork for the M.F.A. Program's 2018 production of Fuente Ovejuna.
Avanthika Srinivasan (Laurencia in Fuente Ovejuna): This play is emotionally and physically challenging, but Domenique is great about making sure that everyone is safe in our conversations about rape and trauma. She makes sure that everything stays in the rehearsal room. If we’ve had an emotionally heavy day, she makes sure that we take collective breaths and check in, so that this story isn't weighing on anyone outside of the room. Initially, it was an intimidating role to take on, but I've learned so much from Laurencia. It's been great getting to put the tools I've gained over these two years of schooling into practice.

Charlie O’Rourke (1st Flogger/Officer #2 in The Bacchae of Euripides): This is an epic play with a lot of dense language, but many of the themes are incredibly relevant to today's socio-political world. It is easy to get carried away because the events are so epic and there is a lot of heightened emotion in the storytelling, but my M.F.A. training has helped me to pick apart the text and find the important words, thoughts, and images, which has kept my performance grounded throughout this process.

Show artwork for the M.F.A. Program's 2018 production of The Bacchae of Euripides.
Caleb Lewis (Barrildo in Fuente Ovejuna): What makes this play special is how timely it is right now. In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, art where women are standing up and men are being held accountable for their actions can help to make a cultural shift. Stories provide examples to base our actions on, and this play provides us both with what we should do and shouldn't do in situations such as this, when a man in power uses that power to exploit the women under his control.

Summer Brown (Tiresias in The Bacchae of Euripides): There are some shows that are very text-driven. Others are more movement-focused, or musical. This show uses all of these conventions to the nth degree. The worlds of Greek tragedy and Soyinka are so emotionally full. Whether, speaking, singing, or dancing, every moment of this show must be very charged—there’s nothing casual about it. The rehearsal process has demanded an incredible amount of physical, vocal, emotional energy. It’s been so exciting to watch this show grow and I think the audience will be really captivated by it.

Fuente Ovejuna runs May 9–12 at The Rueff at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street. The Bacchae of Euripides runs May 9–12 at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop Theater, 1117 Market Street. Click here to purchase tickets.

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