Spring play brings Everyman to modern stage

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Play practice for Everyman on February 9 started out as a dance practice. What could that possibly have to do with a play written in the 1400s?

“Dance—theatrical movement, in this case—can convey the emotion of the play through movement without using words,” said Jane Steigman, a dance instructor who studied ballet for 12 years. She admitted that the words in Everyman are awkward at times, even funny to modern ears. Director Jennifer Bailey indicated that the language of the classic play is more challenging than Shakespeare. Dance was just one of the ways she wanted to use in order to help today’s audience relate to Everyman, yet remain true to the original script. Together, she and Steigman, a freshman and the character of “Strength,” have choreographed the play. They have included movement with cloth banners and ramps that take actors out into the audience. The original music they’ve used for the theatrical movement has been done by Bailey’s husband, Jason Bailey.

In teaching movements to the cast, Steigman has found them to be apt learners. “They’re actors,” she said. “It’s easy for them to memorize the movements—just as they would memorize any script.”

Everyman on its own would take only 40 minutes to perform. So another of Bailey’s ideas to make it more understandable was to use David Ian’s adaptation of the play. He has written an enveloping script around the original play, providing a prologue, epilogue and some inbetween pieces to knit the story into modern times as well as make it a full-length presentation. The original script of Everyman emerges as a dream in the mind of modern-day artist, Michael, who is grieving the death of his best friend.

David Ian of Unchained Productions in Portland has worked with Corban Theatre Arts in the past. According to Katie Eick, assistant director, he wrote Esther and the adaptation of Pilgrim—both productions done at Corban. Ian has also taught stage fighting at Corban’s summer theatre camps.

The original art of Adrian M. Castillo is yet another addition to the play, portraying the work of Michael the artist. The real artist’s work will provide the backdrop, presenting images of each of the characters in the play. His work will be featured for the month of March in the Psalm Visual Arts Gallery.

Bailey and Eick together describe Everyman as “an allegorical play that wittingly exposes the hard truths of life when one is faced with death.” They offer this invitation: “Come follow along as the artist wanders down the rabbit hole of his mind, seeking something more than himself—something that can be found in every man.”

Performances for Everyman will begin with a matinee on Thursday, March 13, at 10:30 a.m., followed by evening performances March 14-15 and March 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Psalm Performing Arts Center. Ticket prices are $8 for students and seniors, $10 for adults. Call 503-375-7035 for tickets or visit the College Bookstore.

  • Everyman (Nathan Furumasu) is tormented by his “inner demons” (Rachel Ost, Tausha Oatman, Joy Bennett, Jane Steigman, Matt Gossien, and Lanae Gehring) while Michael the Artist (Adam Karnes) looks on.

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