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ORLANDO by Mar Battistella, Cindy Choi, and Jared Pickney

Posted by on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in 1010 blog posts, , .

Vanderbilt University Theatre produced an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, showing on February 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, and 24 in Neely Auditorium on Vanderbilt Campus. Sarah Ruhl wrote the play adaptation based on Woolf’s novel of the same name. The audiences included students, professors, and the general population. The following dialogue took place the morning of Friday February 23rd in Alumni Hall Room 201.The dialogue is between students Mar Battistella, Cindy Choi, and Jared Pickney. Mar Battistella is a senior from Sacramento, CA studying mechanical engineering and they performed in Orlando as a chorus member. Cindy is a sophomore studying HOD and business, and she is from Seoul, South Korea. Jared is a junior in the College of Arts and Science.

 

What about the production did I find most interesting? Or that I found most upsetting? Or most uplifting? Or most disappointing? Or most surprising?

 

Cindy: I thought it was interesting how there… the actors weren’t limited to a certain gender so girls were playing boys roles and boy were playing girls roles so I found that really interesting.

 

Jared: Yeah I thought it was pretty cool how they were able to be flexible with the roles that they played and it really showed kind of the range of their acting ability that they could do that pretty seamlessly. Honestly. And not really miss a beat.

 

Mar: Yeah. Peppin, who played Orlando, is an amazing performer. She’s really excellent. I really – I mean I was involved in the production of the show but I really liked when the curtains fell. I just thought that  – because I didn’t get to see it or I don’t get to see it during the show but I did get to see it during tech rehearsal and I just, I don’t know, I thought that was a really cool moment.

 

Cindy: I also thought it was interesting how some of the actors were moving around and not limited to the stage but like up on the second floor. You know where the seats are and stuff. Because Neely is such a small theatre I thought it was interesting how you guys used all the space you had to you know to do the performances.

 

Jared: Yeah that was probably a plus for me because I was there and there were times where I’d actually look over to the right and see somebody kind of coming out of the shadows getting ready to do their part like ‘Oh, wow, okay.’ And there were other times where you know you’re so into the actual play that you don’t notice the guy two feet from you or whoever the actress or actor is and you’re like ‘Oh’ then the lights show them. So that’s pretty cool.

 

Was I the intended spectator for this performance? What choices were made to draw me into the performance?

 

Jared: I don’t really know if there was an intended spectator. I think it was pretty open to all just because, I mean like we said earlier, the flexibility of the….that the actors and actresses showed. With them being to switch genders and switch roles and really just not seem like that big of a transition or that big of a deal. So, if you were like me and came in with really no knowledge of what this was going to be or what was going to happen, I think it was a pretty cool experience.

 

Cindy: I agree. But normally I’m not super into watching theatre performances especially on campus or anything. So, I think I was kind of drawn to the performance because of this class. But I think it was a really good experience for me to experience a different theatre performance even if it was on campus led by students.

 

Mar: Yeah, for me because I don’t….I’m not a very good audience member just because I don’t sit still for a long time well. And so performing for me is more fun because I’m actively a part of it. But I think this show… the reason why I auditioned specifically for this show was because that it does a lot of play with gender and the majority of the cast is cisgender, with the exception of myself and one other performer. So, during the creative process of it, I had to kind of play the role of that person who is like ‘this is problematic.’ So, part of the reason I auditioned is because it does have that play with gender and that flexibility that is really fun to play with on stage. And also because it’s important to have a voice in there that’s going to be the one calling people out. But, yeah it was kind of a difficult process at some points but for the most part the people working on it were all very receptive and worked really hard to make it into something we could all feel good about.

 

Why did they choose to tell this story on stage?  Was it effective as a live piece of theatre, and why or why not?

 

Jared: I honestly don’t think it could have been effective any other way just because how- well not to say that it wasn’t a good show, just the interaction that you kind of have with the actors just cause of how close they are and how… I don’t really have a word for it. Just you’re close, you’re into it with them, they’re into it with you. It’s kind of a nice chemistry to have and as a movie you don’t really have that surprise factor of ‘Oh, the Queen is right to my right’ and ‘Orlando is coming up the side right here’ and you know for the people who sat in the front you were literally probably two feet away from Orlando for most of the show. So… I don’t know… and the stage is a pretty simple design and you guys did a really good job utilizing colors and the lights to really distinguish what was going on.

 

Mar: Yeah, that’s Philip. He’s one of the theatre professors. He does a majority of the design for like most of the shows. And he’s so good at what he does. And… yeah and he just always makes like these really… I don’t know just cool choices that are a lot of fun. But I think cause the original work that this is based on is a novel by Virginia Woolf and I was reading a review of the 2010 production of Orlando in New York and it was saying how there were certain elements of it that like adapting a piece of Woolf’s work into a script is really hard because Virginia Woolf relies so much on narrating and description and building the scene through really intense descriptions and what this reviewer was saying was that the show and the script rely too much on the Chorus as storytellers, which I kind of agree with to a certain degree but I also think that- cause of part of what we were doing as we… as we did a discover through was to figure out who we were as chorus members and kind of what our investment is, where we were telling the story, when we were telling the story that sort of thing. It’s kind of a fun process but I definitely see where that critic was coming from by saying that it relied a lot on the Chorus.

 

Jared: I would describe it as interactive but not intrusive. Because with some performances you get the actors and actress a little bit too…not into it but a little too…

 

Mar: Maybe like in your face?

 

Jared: Yeah, so for the people who aren’t that comfortable and really that open to that kind of experience. This piece like it’s in your face but it’s not too close. You know? They’re not treating you as an actual part of the play. They’re treating you as the audience which I thought is pretty cool.

 

Cindy: I really think if this show was performed in other theaters like bigger ones, like Langford or you know at Blair, I think it would be very different and I think it was more unique because it was played in a smaller setting and so there were more interactions with the audiences too… And I feel like audiences were more able to get engaged and participate as audiences in the theater as well.

 

Mar: So what did y’all think of that part when Peppin, during the Sea Captain part, when Peppin ‘Could I jump overboard and swim in clothes like these?’ and waited for an audience response?

 

Cindy: It was interesting. Because most theaters don’t literally interact like that… It was interesting.

 

Closing Remarks

 

Jared: I liked it a lot. As I said before it did a good job of showing the performer’s ability to kind of adapt to whatever situation they were given or whatever role they were given. I thought it did a really good job of including everybody because even though, Peppin was the lead for the most part, you were still able to experience the other performers, like there wasn’t just a lot of standing around and maybe two lines in this scene, two lines in that scene. For the most part there was ‘you get a piece, you get a piece, you get a piece’. Like especially for the descriptive parts where it was like [gestures and alters inflection] one person saying this part, one person saying this part, one person saying this part, one person saying this part. So I thought that was really, really cool… A+, it was awesome.

 

Cindy: It was definitely very interesting. Some parts for me were kind of hard to understand because of the language, like the ancient, you know old english language, where you guys use ‘thy’ and ‘thee’. I always have a hard time with those. But aside from that it was pretty interesting. The stage, how it was made, that was really cool with the curtains falling off and that elevator scene, where the doors open and close. Definitely a lot of interaction with audiences, especially because the actors were very, very close with the audience. Also with the Chorus, because the Chorus wasn’t really limited to a certain role, like Orlando was, and a person was playing a tree and suddenly that person was engaged to Orlando and stuff like that. It was really interesting. And I think although it was a really small number of cast playing in this, it felt like it was done very nicely and I really enjoyed the show.

 

Mar: Well, I’m sitting here and I’m in the show, so you can’t be like ‘I hated it! It was terrible. Especially you were terrible’. [laughs] But it actually has been a lot of fun to be in this production just cause the cast, a lot of them are really wonderful, and the tech crew – I don’t know if y’all noticed but we actually had four followspots, which they’ve never had four followspots in Neely before. And all the crew and all the cast have been working really hard and have been really fun to work with. And Jessika, the director, has also been very good to work with. So it’s been a fun process.

 

 

 

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21 Comments on “ORLANDO by Mar Battistella, Cindy Choi, and Jared Pickney”

This dialogue was really intersting given everyone’s different backgorunds and experiences with theatre. I thought the discussion on how well this show involved the audience was very relatable to my experience seeing this performance. When I attended Orlando, I sat on the second level, off to the side. So during many parts of the show, characters were right next to me speaking off of the ledge, going up and down the stairs.This aspect of the production made me feel like I was a part of the play. I can imagine that this aspect of the play was amplified even more for audience members sitting on the bottom floor, at the same level as the stage. Even though Neely Auditorium is a relatively small theatre, it allows the audience to connect more to the performers than would a large Broadway stage.
Jared also brings up how the simple set design made it very adaptable and conducive to scene changes. Furthermore, I think the set design symbolically represents the human body. Just as how the stage is set as a ‘blank slate,’ so are our bodies: we can choose how to dress, act, look, and perform. Similarly, the stage is set in a simple, elegant way and changes with the lighting, scenery, backdrop, and props. I think the stage is designed in this way intentionally to symbolize the idea that gender is fluid and socially constructed (blank slate).
I also found the writers’ conversation about gender fluidity intriguing, especially from Mar’s perspective being one of the performers in Orlando. Given the fact that most performers in the play were cisgender, I can imagine it was a pretty eye-opening experience to adapt to roles that might not match the performers’ gender identity. That being said, I think the cast did an amazing job of playing the roles that were quite complex and at times confusing. I am sure that being in this production was a huge learning experience in further understanding gender and sexuality and the spectrum in which these two exist.

Emma Bernstein on March 8th, 2018 at 11:37 am

I do agree with that if the show was performed in bigger theaters, it would be completely different. In Neely, the smaller space and settings enable the actors to interact more with the audience. Some even showed up standing among the audience. Also, we can see the facial expressions clearly while they are performing in Neely, which is very crucial to feel the emotion of the character. I think another advantage that Neely has is that the lighting design. Light comes directly from above, forming different patterns. The part I like the best is when they were getting marriage, the light created a colorful pattern on the floor, just like the sunshine going through the stained glass in the church. That scene was so beautiful.

Teng Teng on March 12th, 2018 at 6:56 pm

I found this dialogue to be very interesting. Many of the discussions that this group had were consistent with my opinions and takeaways after seeing this play. That being said, I found the varying perspectives of these students to be particularly interesting. Mar was involved in the production of Orlando, so they offered insight that I would have otherwise not known. Mar described the role of the director and actors on a personal level. After seeing Orlando and doing the cultural context worksheet, I was particularly interested in the role of gender in the play as well as the set in Neely Auditorium. This group discussed both of these topics in their dialogue. Gender is a central theme in the plot of Orlando and this production did a great job of portraying that emphasis. The group spent a lot of time analyzing Neely Auditorium as the site of the play. Neely is a small space, which creates an intimate experience for the audience. Jared mentioned that he could see what was going on behind the curtains. Also, lighting had a tremendous role is focusing audience attention. Because cast members were so physically close to the audience, lighting emphasized certain actors at certain moments. Therefore, even though an actor was physically closer to audience members, they were able to focus on actors who were not as physically close when necessary.

Alexa Levitt on March 13th, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Overall, I think that Cindy, Jared, and Mar provided some excellent insight on VUT’s performance of Orlando. Their responses were to the point, clear, and full of great details. I think that it was great that Mar performed in Orlando as a chorus member. In addition, I agree with Mar’s statement that Pepin is an excellent performer. When I saw Orlando, it really made me smile when I saw Pepin performing because I could tell that she was so passionate about theatre. I think Cindy makes a good point that the usage of Old English could have made parts of the play difficult to understand. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the performance.

First of all, Orlando is a highly relevant production because it showcases themes that can be applied to the issues that college students are facing with today. For example, when I saw Orlando a few weeks ago in February, one key theme that I noticed was gender differences. The actress that played Orlando, Ms. Pepin, did an excellent job portraying both the female and male side or Orlando. Ms. Pepin ultimately portrayed the idea that gender roles/manners are not purely biological; instead, they are social constructs. The idea of gender roles is relevant to college students at Vanderbilt because some students are active members of the LGBTQI community, and members of this community may focus on ideas such as gender roles. In addition, another theme that I found relevant was the notion of conforming to society. When I viewed Orlando, I quickly realized that Orlando was actually conforming to society of each time period in which he traveled. For each new situation in each new age, the character Orlando tended to change himself in order to “fit in”. There are several examples that serve as evidence for this. In the beginning part of the VUT production, Orlando wore fine white clothes as he takes on the role of a courtier for the Queen (corresponding to the 1500’s). Towards the latter part of the production as Orlando moves into the 1700’s and 1800’s, he begins to learn how to adapt into life in London and finds a husband. However, Orlando’s consistent conforming to society’s norms in each period ultimately becomes exhaustive. During the production, I quickly realized that Orlando should ultimately reject the idea of conformity and that Orlando should practice the notion of “just be yourself”. I think that Ms. Pepin did an excellent job portraying Orlando’s character and how his/her personality changed throughout time. Orlando should ultimately be an independent person who has his/her own thoughts, expressions, and mannerisms. I think that this is completely relevant to the primary audience of VUT’s production: college students. In my opinion, college students may want to conform to a sorority, fraternity, or something else in order to “fit in”. However, sometimes its also important to realize that just being yourself will ultimately lead to a happy college career. I think that the audience as performer class reading is relevant to this production. When I was viewing the play, I saw that the audience laughed throughout certain parts of the play. These laughs could have provided motivation for the actors/actresses on stage because they know that the audience is engaged and are enjoying the play.

huangj7 on March 13th, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Like my peers said, the wide and creative use of the auditorium was effective in making the play exciting, and as the actors and actresses appeared in the scene from different parts of the auditorium such as the second floor in the audience section, I became more drawn to the play because their approach was so novel and fun. In addition, the proximity between the audience and the actors/actresses made it feel like I was in their story. They directly interacted with the audience when Orlando during the play asked a question to the audience and waited for a response, and at that part, I became Orlando’s friend, joining the journey along with them. Like we learned in class about the role of audience in creating the play as actors or actresses, the dynamic and close interaction between the audience and the people on stage was a critical and enjoyable component of the play. The stage was small yet so diverse in a way that it successfully changed between scenes through the use of different background images and a special and important role of lighting in changing the atmosphere. The switch in genders were done amazingly and it was not only due to costumes and lines but also their amazing acting abilities that encompassed body language and tone of speech. Orlando was the same Orlando throughout the play, but the actress’s subtle but distinct changes in her display of emotions as well as postures, body language, and the tone of voice made the transition between different genders natural yet distinct. I believe the topics the play discusses, including sexuality and gender, are highly pertinent in the current society and the one that is of many people’s interest, and there is no doubt that this play will rise active, relevant discussions regarding the issues and perhaps help people perceive gender in a different way than they used to.

susieshin on March 13th, 2018 at 7:24 pm

I agreed with the comments that were made about the production. When I was researching the play and the original novel I came upon the movie adaptation and watched a couple of scenes. Before the show I was wondering how the actors were going to be successful at playing roles of genders that differed from their own. During the performance I was aware the the actor playing Orlando was a female, but during the production I realized that the point wasn’t to fully believe that she was a male; i think an important part of the message was to acknowledge that it was a female actor playing a male character because it made you think about gender flexibility. Gender flexibility and fluidity are extremely relevant terms in today’s society and I was excited that Vanderbilt put on a production that sent that message. I also thought that some of the production choices were really cool. I completely agreed with Jared that the concept of the actors going around the entire theater was interactive rather than intrusive. Personally I love productions that get the audiences involved or make the audience feel like they’re involved. I think it adds to the experience and makes the audience feel more included.

camposh on March 13th, 2018 at 8:41 pm

This very constructive dialogue from Cindy, Jared and Mar focus much on the acting and techniques contribute to Orlando a lot, which provides me many unnoticed perspective of the play. I definitely agree their statement that Orlando creates a very different theatre experience. I used to think it would be a traditional, dry stage performance that might make me confused, but the performance is absolutely interactive. Just as Cindy says, Neely’s small, intimate environment make the interaction accessible. Also, Peppin’s and chorus members delicate designed script line and movement around the stage really invites the audience to concentrate and interact.

Like Jared discussed in their third question.The stage setting and lighting in this performance is also amazing. Even though it seems simple, I think the designing team definitely put large effort in creating a poetical, clear but theatrical environment to make audience felt the intimacy of this performance. The long, white curtain not only split the backstage with the main stage, but also create a natural atmosphere when chorus members in white came in, definitely helped build those members identities. pure white soft carpet on the stage can not only set off the main character in colorful costume, but also emphasis the colorful lighting shed on the stage to represent kind of weather, atmosphere, or even emotion. Generally I agree that the designs create a wonderful watching experience.

Personally I felt resonance with Cindy about her felt difficult about ancient English, which make me confused when I watch it without any background investigation. While I can still feel the atmosphere in the theatre pretty well. Since I am sitting on the side of the stage, I can clearly feel the “performance” of the audience in the front row. The creation of theatrical effect previously discussed helped a lot.

xiaj2 on March 13th, 2018 at 8:57 pm

This critical dialogue provides a fascinating cross-section of people’s reactions to VUT’s production of “Orlando.” What I mean to say is that I enjoyed the diversity of this particular group: Mar, Cindy, and Jared really represent the spectrum of Vanderbilt theatregoers regarding prior experience with theatre as an institution. On one side, we get to hear Mar’s perspective as an avid member of the theatrical community and as a performer in the cast of “Orlando.” On the other side, we get to hear what people who do not often attend performances think about the show, since both Jared and Cindy are very open about how the theatre is not something they usually frequent. As a result of the vastness of this spectrum, almost everyone else has the opportunity to relate to at least some of the points that this group makes. Personally, I place myself in the middle of this group – I performed in theatre in high school and regularly attend shows, but at the same time, I have not been in a production here at Vanderbilt and had no background knowledge of “Orlando” before I saw it. Thus, I find my experience with the production represented by a combination of Mar’s expertise and Cindy and Jared’s unfamiliarity. Regarding Mar’s points, I particularly liked the observation about the chorus’ level of participation. I also felt that the chorus had just the right level of involvement with the storyline, and I would even go so far as to say that I enjoyed when members of the chorus stepped forward to add something to the scene. Regarding Cindy and Jared’s points, I definitely relate to the immersive experience that they both said they had as audience members. I too often found myself lost in a scene in the best possible way, and the production truly was an experience for all of the senses. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed myself during the show, and I think this critical dialogue helped cement that experience.

Jared Bauman on March 13th, 2018 at 9:01 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Orlando in person as well as reading Mar, Cindy and Jared’s dialogue about the performance because I found myself nodding along and agreeing with much of the commentary made about it. The theme of gender fluidity woven into the play was something that I particularly took note of during the show and from the beginning of the dialogue is something that Cindy brings to attention. It was very interesting to see such flexibility in who played which role in the play, and it reminded me of ancient Greek and Roman plays when men often played female roles as women were not normally allowed to act on stage. I think this aspect also paralleled the plotline of the play, in that Orlando is undergoing a transition from man to woman so strict gender lines amongst the actors should be removed as well. Secondly, I agree with the point about the set of the performance and the location of Neely Auditorium contributing to the overall experience of the play in a positive way. The smaller stage and set made for a very intimate interaction between the cast members and the audience and allowed for the element of surprise as an actor might appear directly by your side at one point or another. This idea resonates with what we learned in class about the audience as a performer and how the interaction between the cast members and the audience can elevate the performance. I agree with Jared’s point about the effectiveness of the play and that this environment helped to tell the story in the best way possible. Finally, I appreciated the opportunity to analyze a dialogue written by someone who actually appeared in Orlando because I think they had a very unique, insider perspective on the piece. Mar had insight on aspects of the performance that the rest of us did not, for example, they talks about Philip, one of the theatre professors that helped design the set of the show and his choices that brought the show to life. Also, Mar talks about they’s role as one of the only non-cisgender persons in the cast and the struggles but also the strong voice they was able to have because of it. The only topic that I felt they did not cover in their discussion was Orlando’s cultural relevance today. Virginia Woolf wrote this story in 1928, a time when gender fluidity was probably not very accepted in society. The fact that it is still performed and issues of acceptance are still very relevant today speaks to the lack of progress in our society in recognizing and understanding this idea, and we must continue to make this a topic of conversation in order to advance as a society.

Anne Riley on March 13th, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Similar to what the collaboration stated, one of the most important aspects of Orlando was the fluidity of gender through time. Actresses and actors were not limited to their gender when portraying characters. Something the dialogue lacks is the method in which the performance achieved this. The characters portrayed gender through the use of stereotypical behavior, costume, and relationships with other cast members. The dialogue did not touch on the productions relevance today, which is that gender fluidity is more present than ever. Although it is not accepted by majority of people, there is more support behind self-identity than ever before in western culture. With the transgendered bathroom scandal that has been in the media the past few years, the subject is getting lots of attention and press. By putting these issues on stage, it becomes a work of art, something that is valued. Additionally, productive conversations like the one between Mar, Jared, and Cindy are occurring more frequently. The lighting of the production was an additional aspect that really stood out to me. Whether the stage was vibrantly lit with colors and action, or dimly lit and serious, the lighting gave us an additional dimension and way to experience the performers emotions. In Orlando I especially noticed the audience as a performer. The dialogue touched on this and how the smaller staged created an intimate experience with the audience. The performers would use the audience’s silence or laughter to cue their next action or line. Especially when the performers were on the balconies, they had to wait for the audience’s attention before continuing with their performance. Peppin, who played Orlando, was an exceptional actress. I especially noticed her facial expressions and degrees of confidence portraying different genders; when she portrayed a man she was confident and independent, and when she played a woman she was reserved and dependent. This brings up another dimension that the production covers, the difference in how a woman and a man have been treated throughout history. Overall, I was really impressed in how well Vanderbilt students were able to tackle such a difficult production full of meaning and intellectual stimulation.

Shanley Huckabee on March 13th, 2018 at 9:25 pm

As this critical dialogue notes, the production of Orlando very deliberately questioned the idea of gender conformity with the casting decisions. I agree that the decision to cast men as female characters and vice versa truly created the sense of fluidity and flexibility that Woolf tried to get across in her novel. I also think that Mar’s point is a very poignant one. Since this play is so heavily focused on gender nonconformity, it is really important and helpful to both the cast portraying the performance and the audience absorbing it that two non-cisgender people were part of the cast. Finally, I want to respond to Mar’s point about the challenge of depicting Woolf’s “intense descriptions” of scenery. Having read Orlando prior to seeing the performance, I had this same worry that the novel wouldn’t translate well onto a stage, but I do think that the chorus along with the relatively barren stage that was brought to life by lights and sound was a good choice. This allowed for Woolf’s words to be heard by the audience members and still created space for them to imagine the world she described, which is one of the most incredible parts of reading Woolf.

Serena Ainslie on March 13th, 2018 at 10:53 pm

I agree with Mar that the curtains falling was a really cool moment because it stood out and was dramatic. I think this scene really invoked a response in the audience because people did not see it coming and it was a defining moment. Additionally, this part was an attention grabber, so for audience members who were falling asleep or losing focus, this part really drew them back into the action of the play. I also think it was interesting how the actors were in constant movement throughout the play and used the entire space because this added an element of surprise and kept the audience engaged because if they turned away for a second they would probably miss something. I, like Jared, came into the production not knowing what to expect at all, so I defiitely thought the flexbility of the actors and actresses was pretty interesting as well because it made the play relatable. I thought that this element of flexibility and ignoring gender distinctions allowed the play to transcend issues of gender roles and social norms in a sense. I agree that the play was interactive, and although not intentionally intrusive, I do think some parts may have been a little uncomfortable for some people because there was a lot of kissing and contact. Also, the production was in a fairly small space so these parts were somewhat in your face and hard to avoid. However, I do think the fact that everyone had a close up view really added to the drama of the production because everyone could feel the passion and emotion in the room. The tight knit environment of Neely auditorium allowed the audience to empathize and connect with the actors added to the overall emotional experience. Lastly, I also think that the play was hard to understand at times because of the old language, but I don’t think this took away from the overall message and storyline.

Ashley Brienza on March 14th, 2018 at 8:51 am

I agree with the remarks made in this dialogue, which brought up points that almost slipped my mind. If I were asked to comment on this performance, the first thing I would say is how gender-fluid it was, and how characters were always switching genders. It made me associate the characters less with what gender they were and more with what their personality was and who they really were as people. Some of the points I didn’t originally think of were that the performance relied heavily on the size of the theatre, and that the performance was very interactive. Like they said, this performance would’ve been much different if it were held in a bigger theatre such as Langford Auditorium. I remember during the performance, the Queen walked right past me and I was so thrown off-guard, but at the same time I felt it was really cool to be that close to the performance, even though I was sitting in an upper-level. This ties into the interactiveness of the performance, which could also be seen in the characters posing questions for the audience, which was unexpected. Overall, I felt that due to these factors (gender fluidity, size of the theatre, and interactiveness), the performance was extremely captivating, never missing an opportunity to keep its audience attentive.

Brendan Finnerty on March 14th, 2018 at 2:29 pm

I very much enjoyed reading the carefully analyzed dialogue between Mar, Cindy, and Jared on Orlando. Not only did they touch upon topics of gender, which we dealt in class, but they also provided sensational views that I had never thought about while viewing the production. Especially Jared’s opinion on how the experience was “in your face but not too close” made we think of the effect this interactiveness had. The dialogues of the actors are framed in a way that questions the audience and engages them in the same dimension and experience. Its as if the cast is leading the audience along the play through an expected bilateral conversation. This is also reinforced through the appearance of characters off the stage and closer to the audience on the first row of bleachers or on the side of the second floor. Although I was partially struggling to follow along, the engaging character forced me to think about the gender related issues or the different components of the production. It was ultimately successful.

It was also interesting to hear the opinion of a student that was a part of the production. Hearing about Mar’s experience made me wonder the kind of struggles they faced or problems that they identified while preparing the production. If these problems had led to the modification of certain parts, what was the original piece?

Also, while reading the dialogue a few other questions came into mind. There certainly must have been limitations to performing the place on a smaller theatre with less financial support. How would that have changed the production? How was the production modified to be presented at a college setting?

Dahyun Kim on March 14th, 2018 at 9:54 pm

I agreed in particular with Jared’s statement that the stage was interactive but not intrusive. Watching the show I felt incredibly engaged, even though I was only literally engaged a few times (like when Orlando directly addressed the audience). Similarly to Cindy, I haven’t been fortunate enough to go to many theatrical performances on campus. I am so grateful this class opened my eyes to how talented so many of my classmates are, and this show in particular had a unique relationship with its audience. I felt like I was being thrown through time and around stage along with Orlando. I loved how malleable the stage was, being a “blank slate”. The lighting was fantastic, and really brought the play to life. I was blown away at how artistic and elaborate the stage became through the use of props, lighting, and music. I agree with what many people have already said, about how it was really important to use a blank space as a stage in order to reflect how the body really is a blank slate but social constructs have limited us to a binary way of thinking. I thought this production was full of talent, and a very artistic way of addressing a very relevant social issue. By allowing Orlando to simply “turn into a man”, they were able to show how fluid gender actually can be. I thought it was also really important to note how casually the other characters reacted to Orlando’s gender change, also. Nobody seemed particularly surprised or upset, which I thought was probably included by the playwright with the intent of de-stigmatizing transgendered individuals.

Julie Conrad on March 14th, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Mar, Cindy, and Jared discussed the primary points of engagement I had with Orlando. The biggest takeaways I got from the performance were the fluid activation of gender and the interactivity and use of the space as a tool to tell the story.

The overall fluidity of the performances on stage was impressive and difficult to pull off. I echo the sentiments of Jared in that Orlando stretched the range of the performers on stage but whom overall did a good job within a challenging situation. This performance relied heavily on the believability of the performed gender and the unique format in which the play was presented would have not been possible without the buy in and effective performance by actors.

I am also glad that the staging and interactions between actors and audience was discussed because that helped create an environment that gave the actors the best chance to succeed. If the play had been staged traditionally or had been performed in a larger space, as was mentioned in the discussion, it is difficult to see things playing out and maintaining effectiveness ceteris paribus. The intimate interactivity of this performance of Orlando was unique and stood out as a new way for the audience to physically engage with the performance.

Although I overall enjoyed the performance I think another potential topic of conversation was pacing and the way time was handled. Opinions on pacing are personal and opinions on any production will vary but the overall pacing of the work was its biggest weakness. I am unsure as to who had the final call on the material but I found overall that there were points were things dragged and pacing was not a strength of the production.

I came in without any expectations and overall the show was positive as a whole, especially in acting, stage design and lighting but found the pacing to drag at points.

Ziyi Liu on March 14th, 2018 at 11:45 pm

Orlando was an excellent play. When I realized that Orlando was going to performed in Neely auditorium, I knew that the audience would be engaged a great deal because of how close you are to the actors and the stage. The play has a lot to do with todays world with gender and being understanding and excepting of it. Having the males play the females parts and same for females playing as males threw me off at first, but once I understood what was going on I really liked why they did that. It was an excellent play and it had me drawn in the entire time. I also liked seeing all the actors being engaged and a part the whole play. It wasn’t just 1 or 2 actors the entire play with kept the audience focused. It was a great play and I highly recommend it!

aaron on March 15th, 2018 at 3:15 pm

FOR HASSAN: In the play, the actors were not only constantly switching to different characters but also not limited to certain gender role, like the boys were playing girls roles and vice versa. It was something I really enjoyed as I had never seen in any theatre that I had watched up till the I watched Orlando. The performers also did a great job at adapting to the multiples roles they were playing in the play. The VU theatre definitely does not have as much resources as a Broadway show has. But with their meager resources, how the stage was set up, like the curtains and the lift, how the lightning was constantly played around with, how the music changed as scenes changed and how there was complete silence, no music, during some scenes, was all done really well and added more meaning to the play.
There were certain things that I feel could have been done better during the play. The one thing that I really had a hard time understanding was the switching of scenes. Sometimes the scenes were switching real fast and it was hard to follow. If there was some screen at the back of stage that would briefly describe the scene setting, like how it was done in the play ‘Indecent’ that we watched earlier for class, the play could have been easier to follow. During the play, a lot of old English words like ‘thy’ and ‘thee’ were used that being a nonnative English speakers kind of threw me off at times. During some scenes, some performers popped up in different parts of the auditorium. I was sitting in the front row. So, when during one scenes the queen appeared in upper left seating arrangements of Neely, I was really taken aback. I totally understand that some compromises had to be made owing to the small size of Neely Auditorium. However, on a positive note, the small size of Neely heightened the interaction between the audience and the performers.

essinec on March 19th, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Orlando was strikingly different from what I expected, it gave me an immersive, fluid experience. Like that of Jared, after doing the cultural context worksheet over the production, I was unsure to if I would like the play. In hindsight, I am glad I attended the play because it addressed topics like gender in a way that I have never seen before. The portrayal of gender by the characters was aping, not only that but the closeness of the set created this soft atmosphere which drew your attention directly to the cast members. I particularly like the comments of Mar, Cindy, and Jared that pertained to gender because they all provided a differing perspective on the performance through that lens. Overall, this dialogic discussion between Mar, Cindy and Jared did a great job discussing not only the characters and their roles but also the performance set and charter to character exchanges. Which helps those who are reading to get a well-rounded portrayal of what the performance experience was like.

On another note, one aspect I would like to further see and experience is Orlando in a larger arena. The proximity to the stage I felt increased my receptiveness of the play. Therefore, I would be interested to see if the same receptiveness happens amongst a bigger audience.

Joshua Smith on March 20th, 2018 at 8:37 pm

I really enjoyed this play just like you guys because I felt the actors really brought the play to life and maximized all of Neely Auditorium. My honest first opinion of the venue was that it was way to small to hold a play but actually the small environment made the experience much more intimate. Especially because, just as you guys discussed, the actors would come around not only on the stage but on the second floor. I felt like the director made good use of the venue. I also thought the ability of the actors to act as either gender really showed their skill because I find that difficult to do especially in front of a crowd. Overall I enjoyed the play and would probably see it again.

buchajp1 on March 20th, 2018 at 8:59 pm

Mar offers a unique insight having been in the production. They are able to speak to the issues of transforming the book, Orlando, by Virginia Woolf into a production: specifically they address the role of the chorus in explaining the story. Cindy and Jared agreed that the play was open to many different types of spectators. At the performance, I saw a few elderly couples and most of the other audience members seemed as if they were students or faculty at Vanderbilt University. The management of Orlando allowed for the admission of the general United States population at various prices. The intended spectator population was broad and diverse. Cindy, Jared and Mar commented on the actors’ abilities to perform gender in a fluid manner and how it made the play understandable for different types of spectators. Jared also mentioned how the performance was interactive but not intrusive. The lack of intrusively was a result of the play wanting audience members to pay attention to how the actors were performing gender as opposed to worrying about how they as the audience members should perform. Jared, Cindy and Mar failed to mention how the fluid gender performances are relevant to the United States and to the spectators of the show. The production’s use of actors who played characters of dissimilar gender identity was meant to convey a message to the spectators that gender is an identity and is not necessarily the same as biological sex: the dramaturge even wrote in the production’s program that the production’s designers hoped “to prompt audience members to further contemplate the intricacies of identity.” Jared, Cindy and Mar also failed to mention how the play deals with the idea of love. In Orlando, the character Orlando falls in love with a woman and a men and, therefore, breaks norm with traditional heterosexuality. The main point the production was trying to make was that love is love no matter who receives or who gives it. This is also an important concept in society because some people are still uncomfortable non-heterosexual romantic relationships.

Gregory White on March 22nd, 2018 at 4:31 pm

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