It only takes 90 minutes in a Brooklyn tenement for five people to experience the whole gamut of human emotions.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Arthur Miller’s birth, the SUNY New Paltz Department of Theatre Arts decided to perform the prolific playwright’s tumultuous masterpiece, “A View from the Bridge.” Directed by Jack Wade, chair of the department, the play is the first of two Mainstage productions this semester.
The Miller tragedy presents itself with no intermission and throws any onlooker through an emotional wringer. A lawyer named Alfieri tells the story of Eddie Carbone, an Italian American longshoreman living with his wife Beatrice and orphaned niece Catherine. Everything appears fine until Beatrice’s two Sicilian cousins come to town.
“It’s a play about betrayal, sexism, homophobia and illegal immigration,” Wade said. “It deals with so many issues that still exist today.”
“A View from the Bridge” became an obvious choice for Wade as the spring semester drama. The reasons being: the 100-year anniversary of Miller’s birth, it’s a great play and it’s a perfect vehicle for actors to learn about interior realistic acting as well as modern stage combat.
Andres Rodriguez, second-year theatre major, plays the lead role of Eddie Carbone. He prepared for the part by watching films suggested by Wade. A notable movie recommendation was “Raging Bull” for his boxing scene.
The combat-heavy production required fight choreographer John Patrick Hayden’s assistance. He is now notorious in the theatre department, and for this performance, he worked alongside the actors in two sessions.
“He made three hours feel like an eternity,” Rodriguez said. “It was great working with a professional actor who is so detail-oriented.”
Wade said that for this show, the actors embarked on an emotional journey with their characters. As a result, he stressed the importance of technique over method acting.
Second-year theatre major Ciarra Fragale acts as Catherine in this theatrical roller coaster ride. Fragale said that her character goes from a very vulnerable state to an emotionally charged mindset rather quickly. She felt challenged by this concept of rapidly shifting moods every night.
“So many actors tend to lose that separation of character and self,” Fragale said. “You have to take a step back and tell yourself to leave it all in the rehearsal room.”
According to Wade, every aspect of this show from the lighting to the set design and sound score came to fruition through hard working students. In previous performances, professional guests have been involved in the design aspects, but for this production the students took the reins.
“There’s me and then everyone else is a student,” Wade said. “It’s the thing I’m most proud of. Their work has been phenomenal.”
Second-year theatre major Madison Anthony attended the gala performance, the evening before opening night, and she loved watching the characters develop. Anthony cited the performance as her favorite Mainstage production thus far.
“I was definitely nervous and completely hooked on what was happening next,” Anthony said.
“A View from the Bridge” will continue to keep audience members on the edge of their seats in Parker Theatre from March 10-13.