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Cast & Crew Sound-Off on Experience

Jordan Gamble | Friday, October 10, 2008

The St. Ed’s Players bring their first full-length show of the year, “Romance,” by Tony and Oscar nominee David Mamet, to Washington Hall this week. Members of the cast and crew sounded off in email interviews about the difficulties and rewards of putting on the show.

Why did you choose “Romance” for the St. Ed’s Players fall show?Lauren Mangiaforte, senior at Saint Mary’s, director: At Saint Mary’s College, all senior theatre majors must produce a play in their second semester, and I had been reading a lot of Mamet this summer in attempts to find a play of his for my senior comprehensive. Matt Goodrich and Meghan Hartmann, the St. Ed’s producers, both suggested I read “Romance.” I loved the script. I loved the characters. In Mamet’s plays, the dialogue can be unforgivingly harsh, and I like that. At the same time, his plays are full of contrasting places of beautiful earnestness, and I like that just as much. I was hooked.

What is “Romance” about?Matt Goodrich, senior at Notre Dame, producer/cast: Romance is a courtroom farce that lampoons a smattering of social groups in an equally vicious, hyperliterate manner. Everyone’s guilty, everybody lies, and each hates the other. It’s David Mamet at his best.

Lauren Lassus, senior at Saint Mary’s, stage manager: Mamet points out that if we can’t get along in our day-to-day lives and be at peace with the people we see every day, how can we bring peace to the world?

Mangiforte: Despite its provocative, profane language, “Romance” centers around the idea that peace on Earth starts with peace between individual people. I think we are meant to sympathize with the characters and realize that we are capable of the same harm to our fellow humans as they are.

What about putting together the show has been challenging for you personally and as a team of cast and crew?Jon McCallie, senior at Notre Dame, technical director: I’ve always considered myself the resident lighting guy for the Sted’s shows, and in the past I have focused my energies on that. This show, however, features myself in a more fluid role in the production. I’ve had to learn on the fly, but it’s been a rewarding experience.

I couldn’t shoulder that weight on my own, and I don’t think the director wanted me to. Honestly, it has been a completely collaborative effort from the cast and crew in making each of the decisions about the show, from lighting, to costumes, to scenery, to preshow music, to props, to advertising and all points in between. We all worked together to tackle our obstacles in preparing this wonderful show.

Joseph Kwaczala, senior at Notre Dame, cast member: Last semester, I was on leave to study full-time with The Second City in Chicago as part of their new Comedy Studies program. I’m used to working improvisationally and writing my own stuff, putting it up on its feet, changing things around, and things like that. So this whole “normal theater” – if that’s even a saying – is quite different for me.

Goodrich: I tell you what, I myself am not really sure what being a producer entails – kind of winging it, figuring it out as I go along. So far I’ve had to take care of logistical things, running interference, taking care of all the paperwork, financial things with SAO, and just making sure everything comes together. Playing a role doesn’t help either. For me, performing requires too much focus to do justice to each task. Personally, I’m spending about 35 hours a week in rehearsal, as I’m currently rehearsing for three shows.

Mangiaforte: The plain fact of the matter is, the play deals in various degrees of seriousness with some pretty inarguably controversial material: the centuries-old struggle between Jews and Christians, between Isreal and Palestine, child molestation, and the representation of gay couples in our society, just to name a few.

However, as we rehearsed, the play’s central theme of peace revealed itself more and more. I think the cast did an outstanding job of finding places of sincerity in the play that highlight the potential for loving the neighbor we all have