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Student performers bring “King Lear” to the stage

Rehearsals last friday night inside the campus auditorium Preface Photo/ Izza Jatala

Rehearsals last friday night inside the campus auditorium
Preface Photo/ Izza Jatala

By IZZA JATALA

Staff Writer

Electronic-embedded dystopian costumes, some reminiscent of the “Hunger Games” film, are one of the features to look forward to in the upcoming play, “King Lear”.

Catch the IU South Bend Theatre and Dance Company performance at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, through Saturday, Oct. 19, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, in the Northside Hall Campus Auditorium.

“The illuminated electronic costume elements appearing in our futuristic King Lear are a progressive collaboration between Jason Resler, assistant professor of theatre and costume designer, and Sean Hottois, assistant professor of new media,” said Randy Colborn, associate professor of theatre and associate dean of the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts.
He’s playing the role of King Lear.

Colborn said the costumes that use wearable technology bring together advanced skill and design in costuming, 3D printing and physical computing that will give audiences a unique visual experience.

Resler adds to this visual experience through his concepts for the costumes which tell a story all on their own.

“It’s a futuristic world. So the idea is that the setting is now subterranean. We looked at things like ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Hunger Games’ for inspiration,” Resler said while making adjustments to a costume prop inside the costume shop in Northside Hall last Friday afternoon.

The well-known tragic tale of King Lear by William Shakespeare reveals the darker aspects of human nature after King Lear splits his kingdom among his three daughters, leading to madness and chaos.

This adaptation is set in a post-apocalyptic, futuristic world that takes place in tunnels underground, according to Tristan Conner, a theatre student playing the role of Edmund.

Conner, along with many others, has been rehearsing every night. He has also been working in the scene shop.

“The tunnels are throughout England and into surrounding European countries. Towards the end of the show there are scenes where we are above ground and it will reflect in our costumes because the above ground air isn’t breathable so we’ll have breathing apparatuses on, that are built into the costumes; which are going to light up as well.”

A sketch done by Jason Resler, depicting his vision for Randy Colborn's portrayal of King Lear (Image provided)

A sketch done by Jason Resler, depicting his vision for Randy Colborn’s portrayal of King Lear
(Image provided)

Taylor Sears, a theatre student performing the role of Goneril, helps out at the costume shop. She said she can’t wait to see what the work they’ve done will look like on stage.

“I’m super excited about the costumes, my hair is blue so that’s pretty cool – like Effie Trinket from the ‘Hunger Games,’” she said.

At rehearsals Friday night, Conner and Sears practice their performances as Edmund and Goneril along with fellow actors. Dressed in their casual everyday clothes with the exception of a few props like military boots and fake swords, everyone appeared to be in good spirits despite the long hours.

Justin Amellio, co-director and assistant professor of theatre, stood script in hand watching intently. He paused rehearsal from time to time to suggest body placement or movement techniques, and the handling of props. He would say use the rake to your advantage.

A rake is a stage that is angled, sloping upwards.  At one point they were used in ancient Greece and Rome.

“Since we’re underground it makes it look like we’re going into the tunnel which ties into our backdrop,” Conner said.

The effect of the rake guides the viewer’s eyes to the backdrop, which has earthy tones of brown and beige that darken toward the center, giving the subtle illusion of a tunnel.

“We haven’t done a rake this big before. This one is a four-foot rake. It starts from about three inches from the flat stage surface to gradually lifting at an angle up to four feet, “said Greg Demetrakis, scene shop manager and technical director.

The rehearsing students would joke with each other during brief pauses and breaks. There was a sense of family as they guided each other in the process of performing on stage.

“It’s like magic watching it all come alive,” Conner said.

Tickets for “King Lear” are available for $5-$9 and free to students and children. For more information or to order tickets visit arts.iusb.edu.

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