Historical drama set to hit the stage
Actors researched characters to learn more about their roles
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 14:10
The ASU University Theatre will present its production of the Tony-award winning historical drama “The Lion in Winter” beginning Oct. 11.
“Be ready for a lot of deceit, a lot of betrayal, and backhanded compliments,” senior Jacob Scott (King Philip) said. “It’s a lot of playing dirty from the characters, but it’s a great story and a great play.”
The James Goldman play centers around a fictional Christmas gathering of King Henry II of England and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, their adult sons, King Philip of France and his half-sister who is both Henry’s mistress and betrothed to his son. A dispute between Henry and his wife ensues after he releases her from a 10-year imprisonment, with the crown of England at stake. It is historically accurate in terms of major events but the relationships are fictionalized, said Dr. Bill, Doll, director of University Theatre and professor of theatre.
The cast and crew have worked for six weeks on research, set design and rehearsal. Doll said that while there may not be any big technical techniques used in this production, there are some interesting things the department chose to include.
“Even the undergarments, the things we barely see or not see, [the theatre department] built,” Doll said. “They built some undergarments we absolutely won’t see just so the actors will feel in that period.”
Doll said the set will have hand-painted tapestries that will be hit with different color backlights to reflect the actions of each scene. Each piece of furniture was built by the theatre department, down to the arch columns that can be reconfigured in different shape columns for each room in the castle.
Doll invited Professor of History Dr. Shirley Eoff to help the cast and crew understand the history behind the events of the play and 12th-century England.
“It took a lot of time and an extensive amount of hours outside of rehearsal to really bring these characters to life,” Scott said.
Junior Larry Hettick (King Henry II) and junior Janae Hatchett (Eleanor) said that the extra research helped them to understand their characters better.
“It helps us a lot to be able to study the background to understand what motivates the character and what was happening in real life and how that fits into the story,” Hettick said.
Hatchett said the research helped her better understand her character because she could see the difference between the historical facts and the playwright’s action and dialogue. She noted that since this is a work of fiction, it was interesting to see what Goldman decided was important enough to add to the play and still have it be somewhat historically accurate.
“There are a few liberties to make it more accessible to us, but I was really fascinated and we spent a lot of time with the history,” Doll said. “It really was these internal battles [between families] and even families are cutthroat. It’s an interesting power struggle for me to work through with the actors to try to get to that.”
Performances will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, in the ASU Auditorium. Tickets are $8 for the general public, $4 for non-ASU students and $3 for ASU Students. Admission is free for Arts at ASU subscribers and ASU activity card holders. Tickets are available at the ASU box office in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building, open 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. For reservations and/or ticket information, call 325-942-2000.
For more information on “The Lion in Winter”, call 325-942-2146 or go online to the ASU theatre schedule webpage.