Greeking Out In The Blackbox

Magic will be cast on the stage of Parker Theatre as classical Greek mythology plays out during this semester’s Blackbox production, “Eurydice.”

Directed by fourth-year theater performance major Adam Harrison, “Eurydice” was chosen as this semester’s Blackbox production by the Theater Department’s Blackbox Committee after careful consideration of talent availability, expenditure budget and how the show would fit in with the department’s mainstage productions.

Even though Harrison is a theater major with a concentration in performance, he was interested in directing a production and submitted a proposal for “Eurydice” to be this semster’s Blackbox production last semester.

Ever since his experience directing a project early on in his New Paltz career, Harrison enjoyed the craft and “realized that directing is about how to creatively and collaboratively tell a story in the most effective and evocative way.”

After assistant directing “Crimes of the Heart” with Assistant Professor Connie Rotunda during the fall 2012 semester, Harrison said he learned how to work one-on-one with actors and trust his insight, which helped build his confidence as a student director.

Harrison said he chose to direct “Eurydice” in particular because of how moved he was by the message of the play after he read it during his freshman year. He said he wouldn’t have wanted to work on any other material and that every time he reads it, he has discovered something new and exciting about it.

“I had to submit a Blackbox proposal, and I basically had to plan out every detail of the production before it even happened or was selected,” Harrison said. “It took me about 30 hours and 30 pages to complete the proposal, but I was really proud of what I produced. The last week of classes they make a big announcement regarding what Blackbox proposal the committee picked for the next academic year, and my name was announced.”

Harrison was given a production budget of $1,000 from the Student Association which he said he had to carefully prioritize with, and only purchased materials he wasn’t able to borrow from the department in terms of costumes and set equipment.

He said he plans on putting a modern spin on the classic play by accentuating the realism in the story in order to find its magic.

“I think my version of Eurydice includes magic that helps to illuminate the key themes and moments in the play,” Harrison said. “I’m more interested in collaborating with and helping my actors refine their storytelling and actions, instead of telling them what to do. I tell my actors that I’m experiential, and that the direction of this play comes from the humanitarian side of us all.”

The production’s stage manager, fourth-year theater performance major Lisa Lyev said she also fell in love with the script of “Eurydice” during her freshman year and was on board with Harrison’s idea to direct it as this semester’s Blackbox production. As stage manager, Lyev said her responsibilities include serving as the communication hub for the pre-production process and the performances.

“I do all that I can to further our growth as a production team and cast,” Lyev said. “I serve the production by keeping everything organized and keep everyone on the same page to facilitate the vision of the director.”

The production’s namesake, played by third-year theater performance major Jessica Contino, said her favorite part of being involved in the show is working with new actors, as she said relationships built onstage have the potential to continue offstage.

Contino also said getting into character is a process that takes time, and she chooses to get into character by going through the script and finding out not just information about her character, but how other characters react to her character.

“Finding your character through their likes, dislikes, actions and word choice all come into a character,” Contino said. “It becomes the actor’s job to experiment and make different acting choices in rehearsal to figure out what feels right, and what fits into the specific world of the play.”

Harrison said the overall message of “Eurydice” is the idea that bereavement and grief can help identify who a person is. He said his job as the production’s director is to recreate life in a way that the audience members will be able to relate to.

“‘Eurydice’ asks us to allow ourselves to float through grief, accepting the emotional turmoil because in the end, what ends up happening is that you remember who you are and who you were to the thing you lost, and it allows you to let go of the fear and sadness of losing them and hold onto the fact that they are now forever part of who you are,” Harrison said. “There is something so purely beautiful in that, and I hope it speaks to everyone.”

The production will hit the stage  Friday, April 4 at 8 p.m. and will run Saturday, April 5 at 2 and 8 p.m. through Sunday, April 6 at 2 p.m.