‘The Sea’ ends HJT season

Nate Lessler

Photo Credit: Isabel Hong

Harper Joy Theater will be ending the first half of the 2010-2011 season with “The Sea”, a play that has provided its cast and crew with an incredible experience and promises to do the same for the audience.

Written by English playwright Edward Bond, “The Sea” is set in a coastal village in England at the start of the 20th century. The story follows a villager who, after his friend drowns at sea, falls in love with the woman to which his friend was engaged.

While the plot is relatively simple, Director Cynthia Croot noted that the themes and questions the play explores are what makes it interesting.

“I’m most excited by the dichotomies in the play: the poor, the rich, the young, the old, as well as the larger questions about community, our place in the universe, and how we bring meaning to our lives,” said Croot in an e-mail. “Bond wrote a lot of very tragic, violent plays, and I was particularly intrigued by his take on a comedy.”

Senior theater major and cast member Talia Gottlieb noted how Bond’s style of comedy provided challenges from an acting standpoint.

“When you first read the play it seems so incredibly dark and violent and sad, [but] when performed you realize what an [optimistic play it] is,” she said. “The characters have the capacity to seem so one-dimensional . . . but they are incredibly complex. [What] has been really fascinating for me is finding the compassion and humanity of this character that I’m playing who [at first] seems so hard and cruel and unforgiving.”

Gottlieb’s performance in “The Sea” is part of her senior project. In addition to providing senior theater majors with the opportunity to base their thesis around the show, the play has also brought three guest designers to work on it.

Assistant stage manager junior Sarah Wright explained how the visiting designers provided the students involved in the production with a unique opportunity.

“[The guest designers] are all brilliant woman who are going to make this show so incredibly beautiful . . . they have a wealth of knowledge that is very encouraging for me as a student who wants to go into the world of theater. It’s an invaluable opportunity . . . [It’s different] from working with [student designers] in the sense that, not only are they working on a show, they are also there to be mentors,” said Wright.

“The process has been very satisfying so far,” said Croot. “To dip down into the words of a playwright who thinks so deeply about the human condition, violence, conflict and community has been bracing and inspiring.”

Wright, who is equally excited about the play, felt that the play would be just as an incredible experience for the audience as it was for the students who worked on it.

“[The] show is going to be incredible and will change your life,” said Wright.

Photo Credit: Isabel Hong