Making “The King Stag”
Unmasking the curtain call
Jessica Sewing | Collegio Writer
The cast of “The King Stag” faced an additional obstacle while perfecting their performance; the actors had to act through masks. Micah Black says the masks took around
five weeks to make, and they were made out of layers of newspaper, brown paper and shellac.
“We took live casts of actors’ faces to mold each mask specifically to each actor’s face,” Black said. “Acting in a mask is different; we have to use our body and gestures much more. We are always conscious that the audience has a good view of our face and masks.”
Before the curtain call comes on Thursday’s opening night performance, the cast and crew needed to make sure everything was in place. Black says all the technical pieces needed to be tweaked in the final week before the performance.
“We’ve added all the technical elements, so this last week we were focusing on bringing everything together: acting, set, lighting and sound,” said Black, junior in political science. “At this point, we’re just fine-tuning everything and making sure all the aspects of the production will work well together to make the show.”
The cast and crew have been working on the play since September. Kimberly Arzoian says the show has been going great.
“Everyone has been working so hard and everything really came together,” said Arzoian, senior in vocal music education. “Especially when we added costumes and our masks.”
“The King Stag” is an 18th-century play, director Megan Westoff says, though there is no full version in existence. Westhoff says she created an adaptation of the play, one that Arzoian says allowed the actors to create their own characters, to an extent.
“She knew what she wanted from us, but she let us experiment and try new things with our characters,” Arzoian said. “It has been a challenging process, but it has been a great experience. Working with Megan has been very rewarding.”
While Arzoian says the experience was rewarding, she also says it was challenging to understand her character enough to bring it to life.
“It was difficult to see her as a real person and to make sure that the audience will see her three-dimensionally,” she said. “It took me up until just Tuesday night to truly understand her. And I’m sure there is still more to her story than what I have discovered so far.”
Arzoian wasn’t the only cast member who thought the play was challenging. Natalie Black says the performance challenged her as an actor.
“It’s definitely been different from all of the other shows I have done,” said Black, freshman in early childhood development. “It has helped me grow a lot as an actor and I’ve learned so much.
After weeks of preparations, most of the cast members agree that they are ready for show time.
“I think we’re all definitely ready to have an audience in front of us,” Arzoian said.
“The King Stag,” based on an 18th-century fable by Carlo Gozzi, tells the tale of Deramo, a king in search of a wife, using two gifts bestowed upon him by a great magician. When he picks his wife, much to the dismay of his trusted adviser, a farcical series of events involving body-switching spells, bear hunting and psychic statues is set in motion. “The King Stag” is an original adaptation directed by Megan Westhoff, and co-written by Westhoff and Cynthia Allan.