May 3, 2012
As part of their senior projects in Theater, Katherine Watson, Shayna Schmidt and Jordyn Taylor directed and performed two plays, Talking With... and Under Construction. Performances were held in Minor Theater on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The first of the two performances was Talking With... by Jane Martin, a series of three monologues performed and directed by Katherine Watson ’12. Each of the monologues was quirky and vibrant, and each told a radically different story. In the first monologue, “Audition,” Watson played an overeager, ready-for-stardom struggling actress who shows up at an audition ready to do whatever it takes—whether kill her cat or undress onstage—to get the part.
In the second, “Dragons,” Watson portrayed a woman in labor at a Catholic hospital, shouting prayers to a saint’s statue on her bedside table and ranting about the doctor who disapproves of the child she’s about to give birth to. The child, the audience comes to realize, is a baby dragon.
The most emotionally charged of the monologues was the third, “Clear Glass Marbles,” in which Watson played a young woman speaking at her mother’s funeral. The monologue described the journey of a family preparing for death, where each day the young woman watched her mother gather and hold one of 90 marbles, symbolic of her days left. The theater was so silent, you could hear a pin drop—or a bowl full of marbles, which fell and scattered at the monologue’s heartrending climax. Watson played each of the parts with vigor and understanding, garnering sympathy from the audience for each woman’s tale that she made come alive.
After a brief intermission, Schmidt and Taylor performed pieces of Charles L. Mee’s Under Construction. The piece is described as “a collage of America - then and now, the fifties and the present, the red states and the blue states, where we grew up and where we live today, a piece that is, like America, permanently under construction.”
The play began with Bing Crosby’s sentimental “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” played against a black screen, before Schmidt and Taylor emerged onstage, surrounded by chairs, football jackets and hula hoops. The scenes that followed ranged from funny to disturbing, sometimes both. All commented on past or present American life, each against the backdrop of quintessential Americana paintings by Norman Rockwell. Schmidt and Taylor changed characters with each short scene as well as within scenes. Their voices, often bouncing back and forth in monologue, resonated most strongly in a joint litany of wants that reverberated through the theater: “I want what everyone else has. I want more than you have. I want what people don’t know about.”
Many feature monologues where female characters discuss sex, family, loneliness, and finding a husband. In the penultimate scene, as images of war flashed across a screen, Schmidt and Taylor sat above the audience and recited a litany of images from the past; images of growing up like “I remember many Sunday afternoon dinners of fried chicken or pot roast,” “I remember “Double Bubble” gum comics and licking off the sweet powder” and “I remember that life was just as serious then as it is now.” In the final scene, “The Future,” Schmidt and Taylor each spoke about the “human project” of constructing the future from the past and the present. Schmidt and Taylor blended their individual talents and voices seamlessly into a quick moving, thought-provoking and engaging performance.