FloArts prepares to present “The Trial”
The show must go on! Although Hurricane Irma caused the cast of “The Trial,” a play by Steven Berkoff, to lose a significant amount of rehearsal time, an uncompromised version of this show will take place September 28 – October 1 on the Florida School of the Arts main stage located on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College. Show times are 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5.
Adapted from the timeless 20th century novel by Franz Kafka, “The Trial” is a nightmarish exploration of the absurdity of modern bureaucracy. According to play director Patricia Crotty, “ ‘The Trial’ deals with the nightmare of getting caught into a governmental bureaucracy --- and the machine that bureaucracy can become -- and how it depersonalizes us. A lot of us can relate to governmental bureaucracies that are frustrating and impersonal.”
FloArts student Matias De La Flor portrays Joseph K, who is arrested and never clear about the nature of his crime. As a result, he spends considerable time trying to clear his name from a charge that has not been clearly articulated. After being bounced among all of the various government agencies and bureaucracies, Joseph is eventually crushed by the machine that is the bureaucracy, Crotty explained. “We aren't all just cogs in a wheel,” she said, adding, “We see that struggle between someone's basic humanity and a very impersonal, inhumane system in ‘The Trial.’ Hopefully, as we experience the world from someone else's point of view, it can make us step back and re-evaluate our point of view.” Crotty believes “The Trial” speaks to that issue in an invaluable way, “which is a great reason to come out and see the show,” she said.
Striving to get back on track after Hurricane Irma, 21 strong performers, along with the talented backstage crew, have been working tirelessly. “The hurricane is also a part of the story of this show,” said Crotty. “We lost close to half of the rehearsal time, but the company has pulled together, working hard to get the show to where it needs to be on opening night. The show must go on.”
For the two hours that “The Trial” will run, there’s only about one minute that De La Flor will not be on stage. “He carries at least half of the show, if not more,” Crotty said. “We've seen Matias on stage a lot before now, but this show is really his tour de force.”
Crotty also praised other members of the production’s diverse cast and crew. Considering the complex nature of the play and the design and acting challenges the students have been presented with, Crotty said, “They're doing a fantastic job. The students are really loving the work and rising to the occasion. They could not wait to get in here and start rehearsing and working again.”
According to Crotty, the ambitious costume and scenic design teams aim to illustrate how we can get ground up by the machinery of bureaucracy. Elements such as circus and machine images, gears, levers and pulleys will help to tell that story. “The environment really is a machine that Joseph K occupies, and we will see him unable to escape that machine,” she said.
The machine of bureaucracy was the key area of research for scenic design professor Robert O’Leary. “I researched industrial looks, looking at Charlie Chaplin's ‘Modern Times,’ where he was caught up in the machine, so that was definitely a big influence for the design of the set,” he said. “I wouldn't call it steampunk; I would say early electric.” Echoing Crotty’s sentiments, O’Leary also stated, “Although Kafka was writing this piece some time ago, being mired in bureaucracy is pretty much a theme of today.”
Lighting designer Brittany Posso, a second-year student, has been tasked with creating at least 35 separate environments that will lead the audience through the maze of bureaucracy. “The set itself represents the world of raw, and it really takes lighting to bring us from place to place, to transition from place to place,” O’Leary explained.
A challenging mission to accomplish, Posso said, “I think it's really cool, though, because I'm trying to create all these different places while still keeping with the theme of the show. It's definitely challenging, but I'm having a lot of fun doing it.” While the lighting will be “dark and shadowy,” Posso said “the audience will be brought into it so that they can see what’s going on.”
"With this kind of work, Posso’s portfolio will surely find a place at the SETC (Southeastern Theatre Conference),” O’Leary stated.
Sophomore sound designer Braden Harrington has had to tap deeply into his sense of hearing for “The Trial” – from exploring sounds of tools in the woodworking shop to finding interesting composers who have done work with large machinery. “Sound design, in general, with the exception of musicals, tends to be kind of a murky world,” Harrington said. “With lighting and the set, you have a visual thing to draw on, so my goal is to get the audience to listen to what everything is saying -- not just what they see with the gears and all….because there's a lot of information we get just from our ears. For instance, we stop when we hear a horn, or we move somewhere because we hear a train coming before we see it. My world is drawing all of that together and helping to create the whole machine that's going on. This is absolutely the most fun thing I've done in a long time. I love working on all of this,” said Harrington, who also plans to also take his work for “The Trial” to the SETC.
The cast is made up of: Dana Cox as the narrator, De La Flor as Joseph K, Evan Bowen as Guard 1, Jordan Tucker as Guard 2, Hayley Smith as Mrs. Grubach, David Ragan as the Inspector, Emily Skinner as Miss Burstner, Katie Bregenzer as the Laundress, Robert Allen as the Bailiff, Facia Lee as the Voice of Father, Brianna Osmond as Leni, Campbell Gilliland as Huld, Malik Johnson as Block, Facia Lee as Titorelli, Brett Glisson as the Judge and Kai Wilson as the Priest. Chorus members are Jahleel Christian, Anastasia Costas, Allyson Futch, Brett Glisson, Ashley Leake, Megan Leclair, Matthew Wilson and Kai Wilson.
Members of the design and technical team include: Costume Designer and Costume Shop Manager Tiffany Jordan; Scene Designer Robert O’Leary; Lighting Designer Brittany Posso; Sound Designer and Sound Board Operator Braden Harrington; Stage Manager Alysa Ness; Assistant Director and Assistant Paint Charge Anna Guzman; Technical Director/Master Carpenter John Robinson III; Assistant Stage Managers Kati Blankenship and Kaylee Dowd; Production Assistants Maria Clark, Emely Cuestas and Kristen Rude; Lighting Design Assistant Andrew Stevens; Costume Design Assistant Jasmine Saumat; Deck Captains Robert Allen and Emily Skinner; Properties Master and Assistant Paint Charge Tricia Williams; Light Board Operator Andrew Stevens; Assistant Paint Charges Guzman and Tricia Williams; Research Consultant Kassidy Canova; Flyrail Operators Daniel Dubois, Loudise Ortiz-Hernandez and Melanie Rodriguez; Carpenters, Painters and Electricians: Kat Babitzke, Mitchel Burns, Matthew Campbell, Kevin Figueroa, Guzman, Harrington, Noah Peacock, Posso, Madison Protonotarious, Robinson III, Hayley Smith, Andrew Stevens, Christopher Toombs, Billy Williams and Tricia Williams; Cutters/Drapers: Uvenka Jean-Baptiste and Sarah Cox; Costume Construction Crew: Allen, Kiersten Bartholomew, Danielle Brownfield, Costas, Marcus Donaldson, Brandon French, Allyson Futch, Martin Hamilton, Bethany McLain, Saumat and Carine St. Juste; and House Manager Emma Gazdecki.
Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at floarts.org.
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