‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’

By Maria Chambers
April 4, 2002

photo by Jen Dalvano

“Two Gentleman of Verona” was performed at Cabrini over two weekends in March in the Grace Hall Atrium, instead of in the tiny theatre space that has been provided for them to use. “Popcorn,” the last play that was performed in the Red Cloud Theatre, required less people, and all the players did not have to be on stage throughout the entire performance. When Shakespeare’s plays were performed in late sixteenth century England, all the actors were on stage at all times, as was the case when a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Two Gentleman of Verona” came to Cabrini. With “Two Gentleman of Verona,” as a musical, more space than what is available in the “black-box” was needed for the orchestra, the actors and their audience.

“The thing that attracts students is the facilities. There is nothing for the student ambassadors to show,” Neal Newman, theatre director, said. “Theatre is not on the tour.”

First impressions are important to choosing a college, and the lack of facilities can be a turn-off to incoming students with an interest in theatre. “It’s hard to get people to join the play when half the students don’t even know that there is a theatre department,” first year student, Ryan Norris said. There is an acting class offered at Cabrini, and students from this class sometimes try out for the plays performed by Cabrini’s actors.

Newman and the players involved with “Two Gentleman of Verona,” began practicing for the play at the beginning of the spring 2002 semester. They had to practice in the black-box theatre some nights because it was hard to reserve the Atrium for so many evenings. Along with the lack of space for performing and rehearsing, there is a lack of space for costumes, which have to be rented or bought for each performance. “There’s talent, but with talent you need a theatre. Without a theatre there is no ‘show,'” Norris said.

According to Newman, the play could have ran for a few more weekends, however, since they did not have enough space in the theatre, they had to use Grace Hall’s Atrium which is used by other groups for other things. This makes it hard to book the room for a long period of time, and this causes problems for those who would have liked to see this and other performances at Cabrini. Another drawback with the lack of space and having to use the Atrium as a make-shift theatre, was that the crew had to breakdown as well as put up the set and sound equipment each night the play was performed. The set consisted of four sets of scaffolding and three spotlights. The spotlights were rented from Stageworks, a company that rents and sells set and sound equipment for plays. “The abilities of the actors and actresses at Cabrini, by far, exceed the facilities available to them,” Newman said.

During the five performances of “Two Gentleman of Verona,” four sets of scaffolding and three spotlights lined the walls of the Atrium. The audience sat on pillows and folding chairs in the available space between the scaffolding. The lack of space cannot accommodate the audience that is interested in these performances.

Past plays that have been performed at Cabrini and directed by Newman include “Popcorn,” “As You Like It,” and “Commedia.” Neal Newman said, “I enjoy directing plays that cover strong themes that are being addressed in society. “Two Gentlemen of Verona” was the first musical performed by all Cabrini College students

Prior acting experience is not needed to be a part of the plays here at Cabrini, according to Newman. “If you want to be in a play we will be happy to bring you to performance level,” he said. Newman would not reveal the name of the next production at Cabrini, however, more is on the way in the fall, space or no space.

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Maria Chambers

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