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Saint Mary’s Bronte performance

| Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” graced the stage at O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s Monday night with a performance by the Aquila Theatre company. Six actors, united by Aquila’s mission to make classical works accessible to everyone through performance arts, brought the classic novel to life under the direction of Desiree Sanchez.

“It was a marvelous performance,” director of special events Richard Baxter said. “Very well put together, very clear. You know what I loved most of all? No mics.”

One of the production’s lead actors, Kali Hughes (Cathy Earnshaw), said although the show is demanding, it is gratifying to perform.

“It’s a really tough show,” Hughes said. “It’s kind of shocked me. I’ve got to stay fit and healthy. You can’t have a day off, but it’s immensely enjoyable as well.”

Dale Mathurin (Heathcliffe), who is just older than most members of the Saint Mary’s audience, said “Heights” has been on the road for three weeks and the central role can be taxing for such a fresh actor.

“It’s a very hectic show,” Mathurin said. “I’m fresh out of drama school. This is my first time abroad. There are a lot of days in the van getting to different venues.”

Mathurin said she and Hughes lived in London, England prior to touring “Heights.”

“I worked for the company last year,” Hughes said. “I knew they were doing ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and I begged for the role. I love ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and I think every teenage girl holds this book close to their hearts.”

Mathurin happened upon the role after a chance audition, he said.

“I’m a baby, literary,” Mathurin said. “It’s funny. I’m in my third year of drama school, and as I’m ready to leave school, my agent posted this audition to me. I turned up, and I got a recall, went to the second audition. What kept me here was the book and the cast, the environment and the story.”

Hughes said bringing Bronte’s world to life has been a challenge.

“It has been a hard book to adapt,” Hughes said. “You’ll notice we have only really have done the first half of the book. Cathy dies in the first half of the book, and I think part of that has to do with having a young Heathcliff. It’s just a more truthful story.

“As brilliant as the book is, it really does peak in the middle, it’s really exciting, this bit where we ended. A novel is different. On the stage you need to be gripped. Despite the absolute mess they’ve gotten themselves into. If we were to put the whole thing onstage, when [the characters] fail, we want to see more, do we care? It’s like a book with lots of little ends. It kind of leeches the drama.”

Hughes said part of the challenge in adapting “Wuthering Heights,” is the complexity of Cathy’s character.

“I actually find Cathy to be an energy vacuum,” Hughes said. “She walks into a room and sucks the energy out of everything, like a vortex. But she’s also very human, and she makes a mistake. I think she’s just this fantastically flawed individual. She’s trying to claw back her love for Heathcliff.”

Mathurin said Heathcliff’s mysterious side makes the role appealing.

“What draws me the most is his mystery,” he said. “I find him to be very enigmatic to play with in the scenes that he’s in,” Mathurin said. “The mystery of the character’s what drew me. I don’t think at this point in time I want to be anyone else but Heathcliff.”

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