The Gustavus Theater and Dance department present More Light, a play by Bryony Lavery.
This abstract play is directed by Henry MacCarthy, with set design by Lydia Francis and Micha J Maatman, costume and make-up design by Larissa McConnell, light design by Terena M Wilkens, original music and sound design by Aaron Bogen, and choreography by Maddie Bakken.
“I have learned so much being involved in this production,” Bakken said. “I can confidently say that it has expanded my range of knowledge and experience in choreography. Doing a show that is set in a poetic structure made this task a unique challenge.”
“I am so blessed and proud to have been able to work with so many wonderful people and have been given the opportunity to do what I do in a new type of setting.” — Maddie Bakken
This poetic journey takes the audience to a faraway land in the tomb of an Emperor where his many wives that never bore him any sons are located. After they are sealed in the Emperor’s tomb following his death, the morals and relationship of these wives begin to come to light in the darkness as they struggle with survival.
“This show, if looked at face value can be obscured and plain repulsive in many ways.” Bakken said. “I see the abstractness the show is as a whole. The beauty and grace of the play is a must see.”
This production has a twist that impacts all four showings: A double casting separated as an all-male cast and an all-women cast.
Sophomore Emma Gasterland-Gustafsson, who plays Fresh Morning (one of the Emperor’s wives known for her quick hands) in the women cast, sees this development as a unique opportunity for both the cast and the audience.
“The double casting is really cool because it gives me a chance to see how other people can interpret the text that I’m also working with. There’s many differences in the way each cast performs the show,” she said.
However, not every part was double casted. Sam Burnham portrays the Man (also known as the Convict) in both interpretations.
“This has definitely been a unique experience,” Burnham said. “I have never played a character with the extremity of this one. The final characterizations I have for the Convict were definitely not the ideas I had going into this process; a lot of changes happened.”
Another interesting insight of this show is the darkness that corrupts the stage.
“It’s difficult that a bunch of this show is done in the dark, and since I have no contact lenses I have to navigate with no light, and no glasses. Kind of funny that the show More Light has next to no light” Gasterland-Gustafson said.
The cast agrees that the production of More Light has made them grow closer to one another.
“All of the scenes I’m in are with the character More Light, who is played by Sylvia Michels in the ladies cast and Clay Sletta in the guys cast. In one of the scenes we do a movement together, which was choreographed by a close friend of mine, Maddie Bakken. Just having all four of our personalities together adds for some interesting and entertaining moments.” Burnham said.
“This cast is full of so many hilarious people that we’re constantly making jokes with each other on and off stage!” Gasterland-Gustafson said.
“I am so blessed and proud to have been able to work with so many wonderful people and have been given the opportunity to do what I do in a new type of setting,” Bakken said.
The More Light production is November 17-19th from 8pm-10pm and November 20th from 2pm-4pm in The Evan and Evelyn Anderson Theatre. Those interested in seeing the show are encouraged to see it twice.
“Watching both of the casts truly gives a different perception to the viewer. That being said, everyone should go see both casts,” Burnham said.