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Acción! Students bring Spanish flair to Athens stage

Nov. 3, 2005
By Melissa Evans

Jessica Andersen, a playwriting and Spanish major, has found a way to combine her two passions and bring some friends along for the fun.

Andersen, an Ohio University junior, was inspired to direct a Spanish play while studying abroad in Pamplona, Spain, last spring. Now, with the help of other theater majors and a few friends, Andersen's vision will come to life when "Picnic" is performed Nov. 5 and 6.

"I wanted to involve people who had never done theater so they could lean how it works and get involved," Andersen says. And she is doing just that. In the six-person cast, only one actor is a theater major.

"It definitely takes hard work to learn how to really put yourself into a character," Andersen says, "but they're doing a very good job of adapting to that idea."

"Picnic" is a one-act absurdist comedy by Spanish playwright Fernando Arrabal and is Andersen's first attempt at directing.

"I like combining the different areas like costumes, scenery, actors and putting them all together into one thing to create an artistic form," she says. Andersen is receiving practicum credit from the School of Theater for directing the play.

Andersen believes it is important that the cast speaks Spanish during rehearsal and encouraged them to do so.

"If you're speaking English for direction and they all of a sudden have to act in Spanish, that's going to be really tough," she says. "It's hard to go back and forth between languages."

"Picnic" takes place in a war trench and begins with a soldier named Zapo who has yet to see much combat. While waiting in the trench, Zapo is surprised by his parents, who have come to keep him company. Zepo, an enemy soldier who bears an uncanny resemblance to Zapo, joins the family. The four eat, talk and take pictures, seemingly unaware they are in a war zone.

"What we're trying to emphasize with it is that it can be in any war, in any place, at any time," Andersen says. "Zapo and Zepo are every man. They do what they're told to do and then they go home, if they're lucky."

Julian Garcia, a former theater major, will play the part of Zapo. Jamie Siegel, a junior Spanish and psychology major will play Señora Tepán, Zapo's mother. Sophomore Christopher Toothman will play Señor Tepán. Toothman is a photojournalism major who spent a year in Argentina teaching English and studying visual communication.

Nico Traut, a native of Argentina and current resident of Puerto Rico, will play the part of Zepo. Lauren Sorrows, a public relations and Spanish major, and Ashley Mace, the cast's only theater major, will play the parts of two frustrated nurses.

The School of Theater is providing the show's lighting and technical support.

Scott Carpenter, a graduate student, is responsible for light design and Chris Messina is the sound designer for the show. Senior Heather Walker is in charge of costumes. The stage manager for the show is Kellye Blosser. She will also be the light board operator. Leah Vincent will run the sound board for the production for her first time. Jose Delgado, an Ohio University Spanish professor, is the faculty adviser for the production.

Andersen says that even people who do not understand Spanish will be able to enjoy the play, and the cast is working hard to use actions rather than merely words to portray the story.

The play will be performed at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, and again on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in room 306 in Kantner Hall. Admission is free.

Melissa Evans is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.
Published: Nov 3, 2005 4:39:50 PM
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