Gustavus fall theatre production Tragedy: A Tragedy by Will Eno

Kaitlyn DoolittleStaff Writer

The Gustavus Theatre and Dance Department is gearing up for their first theatrical production of the 2022-2023 academic year. TRAGEDY: A Tragedy by Obie awarding-winning Will Eno will be directed by associate Theatre and Dance professor, Henry MacCarthy.  

The premiere night took place in the Rob and Judy Gardner Laboratory Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 3, and more performances will follow 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6.

TRAGEDY: A Tragedy is a tragic and hilarious play that covers the present fake news era. “[It’s] goofy, existential, and unconventional,” Junior actor Will Sorg said.

Tragedy is a short show, only about 70 minutes or so, but it fills every minute with something important. The dialogue is comically verbose, the blocking and movement is layered and dynamic and you’re never quite sure where the show is going to go next,” Sorg said.

The nuances and comedy contribute to the complex and rich themes of the production. “It’s about a lot of different things but part of it is all about the human tendency to imagine the worst possibilities in life and how that often leads to our own self destruction,” Sorg said. 

Director Henry MacCarthy perceives this play as “funny and cruel,” especially in regards to its witt and sharpness. 

“Will Eno plays with ambiguity in language in ways that few contemporary American playwrights do. He allows us to see in the mundane instances of extraordinary beauty. His characters are fearless, uncensored, ambiguous, and brutally honest, while inhabiting a space that is nothing but highly theatrical,” Director MacCarthy said.  

“Will Eno has such a bizarre sense of humor and structure, and adapting to it made for a really fun challenge,” First-year Grant Gibson, one of the actors in the show, said. “[It’s a] quirky mental breakdown.” 

“I think that Tragedy has this theme of isolation that, obviously, lends itself nicely to being a play performed under COVID restrictions. On top of that, all of the reporters struggle in some sense with their own identities, something that somewhat hits home for me as a first-year at a college five hours away from my home,” Gibson said.

The preparation for the production has been challenging, but incredibly rewarding for the actors and crew members. 

I started thinking about the show about a year ago. We started production this past May and continued to work throughout the summer. The designers and the entire production team worked over the summer to create the world of the play. We held auditions the first weekend of this semester and began rehearsals shortly thereafter. It takes a lot of work to make theater, but it is also some of the most interesting and enjoyable part of our work because we get to discover the play together through a collaborative process that involves around 80 people including faculty, students, alumni and guest artist,” MacCarthy said. 

Even though this isn’t Sorg’s first show at Gustavus, he still finds a way to improve his craft while also enjoying his time with his fellow actors. “My favorite part of the process has been experimenting with the script and the characters and seeing what works,” Sorg said. 

“This is the smallest cast I have been a part of so it’s been really cool to work with each other so closely pretty much every single day,” Sorg said. 

Gibson is appreciating the new skills he is learning and the memories he is making along the way. “It’s a lot of effort, but it created a really good environment to get to know everyone on the cast and crew well, which is always my favorite part of being in shows like this!”  Gibson said. 

“I haven’t been in any other Gustavus shows, since I’m a first-year, but this show’s process has been a giant change of pace from other productions I’ve been in. Henry’s process is a lot more intense than I’m used to, but it’s been a wonderful experience to work with him,”  Gibson said. 

The cast for Tragedy includes Sydney Dimapelis, Grant Gibson, Grace Kearney (editor for the Weekly), Houston McLaury,  Mariana Rodriguez-Guzman, Lily Roehrick, Will Sorg, and Erik Sveen Erling. 

Tickets cost $10 for the general public and $7 for students (although all Gusties get one free) and can be purchased at gustavustickets.universitytickets.com

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