The Gustavian Weekly

Mendacity brings secrets and suspense to the stage

By Ellyn Sheehy Staff Writer | April 25, 2014 | variety

Posters for Mendacity feature the faces of the two students who star in the production. Submitted

Posters for Mendacity feature the faces of the two students who star in the production. Annie Galloway

Seniors Comfort Dolo and Rob Ward have been acting together since their first theater class at Gustavus. Now, they have come together once again to create something of their own. Their senior honors project, Mendacity, will be performed in the Black Box theatre April 25 and 26 at 8:00 p.m. and April 27 at 2:00 p.m. This is a product of months of hard work and is a testament to how much they’ve grown as both actors and directors.

In the Theatre Department, students have the option to apply for and create a senior honors project, this is the equivalent to a thesis. Being the only two actors in their theatre class, Dolo and Ward decided to collaborate on a project. Over the summer, they looked over a number of plays and eventually decided to devise their own.

“This means starting from nothing and creating something out of it,” Ward said.

The pair started with one main idea: secrets. This concept of lies and deceit combined with an exceptional amount of improvising led them to Mendacity.  The word mendacity means untruthfulness.

“We wanted the title to reflect the major theme of the play,” Dolo said.

For inspiration they looked to everything from their personal lives to Quentin Tarantino films. They wanted to humanize the characters they created and using things from their own lives was the way to do that. While studying in Ireland over J-term, Ward found interest in the works of Irish writer and director  Samuel Beckett and drew inspiration from his works as well.

In the endless hours Dolo and Ward spent devising and directing this play, they learned about the strengths of themselves and each other and were able to play off of those.

Every day, they would come together with their ideas and improvise off of them.

“We have very different styles…Comfort is more lighter while I am more sick and twisted. Together that created a dark comedy…it was a very nice clash,” Ward said.

Everything needed for this production was done by the two actors or fellow theatre students.

“For the project we were wearing different hats—actor, director, set designer, and marketing…we had to solve all of our own problems,” Ward said.

Few details have been revealed about the plot of the play and that is exactly what Dolo and Ward wanted. What has been gathered is that it is about two people trapped in a basement. They don’t know how they got there or why they are together. In the midst of their attempts to escape they come to realize the dangers inside the basement and themselves.

Dolo and Ward have expectations not only for their own performances, but for how the audience will react to them.

“We want the audience to be in suspense, to feel almost uncomfortable,” Ward said.

“We want them to see that there is more behind a person than what meets the eye…the idea of withholding the truth is something that applies to everyone,” Dolo said.

Despite the fact that they are performing the play in a few days time, these young directors do not feel that their work is done.

“We devised and directed the entire thing, and the play came out of our improvisations, so we will probably be making changes during the two days of performances,” Dolo said.

Their project will reach its completion at the final bow.

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