The show rounding off this fall semester is coming to a close with its last weekend in production. The last show dates and times are Friday November 21, and 22 at 8pm and November 23 at 4pm.
The theater program we have here at Cypress College have been going full steam ahead this semester, producing the untold story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that ended its production less than a month ago. In such a short amount of time the theater department is releasing yet another production, Crimes of the Heart, a Pulitzer Prize winning play written by Beth Henley that is classified as a dark comedy, an inappropriate response to social norms that passionately entices the audience to feel for the characters as they are taken through an emotional rollercoaster of a journey.
I was able to catch up with Emmett Jaeger, the show’s stage manager, and Katie Realista, the show’s director to ask them a little more about what their play is about and a more definitive idea of what Crimes of the Heart is. Crimes of the Heart is set to be happening in 1974 in a small town in Mississippi where three sisters come home to take care of their dying grandfather, however each of them have had their share of strange experiences before coming home. Director Katie explains that the main characters of this play haven’t had normal things happen to them recently, “one of the sisters had shot her husband in the stomach that morning and she is out on bail, another is coming out of a psychiatric institution in Hollywood and last one has been at home taking care of their granddad all this time.”
With such a mournful setting for all these sisters to come back to, their past experiences play heavy part in making this a dark comedy. This term is not often heard unless you are a within the acting community or have a wide knowledge of terms such as this. To put it in simpler words a dark comedy is a showcase of “people acting inappropriately in dire circumstances and they react to a situation more humorously than you would expect them to react to in the same situation,” explains Director Katie. It is difficult to perform correctly it seems because on one hand you are dealing with such a dark and serious topic that may have leave audience members on the verge of tears and other times they may be ready to laugh.
When I walked into the theater where the play will be put on, I was taken back at how detailed the set was and the amount of work that was seen to go into such a set design. It wasn’t until the cast had arrived that I had fully realized how much time and effort they had put into this production. Emmett Jaeger, the stage manager for the show had told me they had been rehearsing “five nights a week for the last seven weeks, going from 6:30 to 9:30 pm and 10pm if needed.” When the cast had arrived it was down to business because they were in their 14 day countdown to opening night, and everyone appeared to be focused and anxious to get started. Because they were in their countdown to opening night I was only able to question one of the actresses in the play. Leslie Reyna is playing Babe Magrath, the sister that shoots her husband in the stomach the morning of the opening act. To prepare for this role she had to “research mental illnesses and gather information,” to step into this challenging role.