By Brianna Lopez
Members of Barry’s theatre program will join Assistant Professor of Theatre Michelle Bellaver to present David Adjmi’s “Marie Antoinette,” April 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Broad Auditorium.
The Buccaneer was able to attend a rehearsal and see the behind-the-scenes of the production. Starring Valeria Vega, a senior theatre and vocal performance major, as Marie Antoinette herself, the show is sure to be one that students will enjoy.
In fact, stage manager Crystal Carbonell, a freshman theatre major, said that students should “expect the unexpected.”
“You think there’s nothing to it—Marie Antoinette, the queen who got her head chopped off,” said Carbonell. “Think again. This is a whole new take on the icon.”
This new take, according to Vega, stems from Bellaver’s determination to make this production one that emphasizes the female gaze. The show will present the reality of what it was like to be a female in power.
Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France before the revolution. There were many rumors and whispers about her while she was in power and, in the end, she was guillotined after being found guilty of crimes against the state.
Vega exudes confidence and knowledge of her role all throughout the play, drawing in the audience’s attention and keeping it with the emotion evoked by her facial expressions and powerful voice.
Some scenes are jarring, with Vega wearing kneepads during rehearsal to break her fall. Violence, complicated relationships, and drug use are all themes that the Barry community can expect to see in this production.
A performer from a young age, Vega said that Marie Antoinette had “something really special” that caught her eye and intrigued her to audition.
Since getting the part, the actor has been rehearsing nonstop, both with the cast and on her own.
“The beauty of acting is that you take your work home,” said Vega. “You assess what you’ve done, and you have your pros and your cons list.”
Vega adds that it is difficult to not self-berate. During the rehearsal, Vega called “line” during some parts where she knew the line and just needed an extra second to remember it. These little things are what feel discouraging, but Vega tries to recoup from them strongly.
Denise Bedenbaugh, a student who graduated in December after majoring in acting, is playing the peasant girl. She echoed Vega’s emphasis that rehearsal is everything.
“[At Barry, rehearsal] has only been Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but outside, I mean, it’s in the car, at the house, to your pets,” said Bedenbaugh. “In traffic, I’m sure people think I’m crazy.”
The cast has been working tirelessly to learn their lines and get their parts right. One strategy they shared was recording themselves reading everyone else’s lines, so they can listen to it back and say their own parts in between.
Rehearsals aren’t just crucial for the cast, however.
Carbonell notes that she feels a lot of pressure as stage manager. She has to write down the blocking for future references, follow along the script in case an actor needs a line read out for them, and research any French words that may be unfamiliar to make sure pronunciation is perfect by opening night.
The last time Carbonell stage-managed was in high school, but Bellaver decided to train her because she knew Carbonell had an interest.
During rehearsal, Carbonell had the actors practice key scenes at quarter, half, and full speeds and voices, in order to get the mechanisms and timing down.
“Being a stage manager is incredibly challenging because it is a full-time job on top of academics,” said Carbonell.
Still, Carbonell is excited for students to see all the work they have put into this production. She notes that the support from her team is unmatched. Vega and Bedenbaugh echoed this sentiment.
“We all support each other. Every rehearsal, there is a loving environment,” said Vega.
This environment is fueled by the time they spend together. Because of their bond, when one cast member is feeling off, all the other cast members end up harboring that feeling.
“We’re just one big braincell,” said Vega.
The cast and crew are eager for the Barry community to attend open night. Carbonell believes that this production will make students question history.
She asked: “How far can people be pushed? What lengths do people go to in order to save their family? How do you define true love? Right from wrong? How much can be blamed on circumstance, and how much is a choice?”
Marie Antoinette opens on April 7 and will play through April 9. Each night begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Broad Auditorium. Admission is free.