Willimantic, Conn – Eastern Connecticut State University’s Performing Arts Department performed the play “On the Verge” in the Harry Hope Theatre from Oct 7-12. Director of the play, Professer Chase Rozelle, received exciting news from representatives of the Kennedy Center, a nationwide collegiate theatre organization. “They liked the production so much that they would like it to be held for consideration as a play at their regional theatre festival,” Rozelle said.
“On the Verge” portrays three Victorian women traveling through what they believe to be Terra Incognita (Lands Unknown). As the play advances, these women begin to realize that they are not on any ordinary journey, but that they are in fact traveling through time. While doing so, they begin to see visions and learn new words from the future.
Each of the explorers is based off real life Victorian women. Mary is the lead lady explorer, drawing upon wisdom from her favorite periodicals. Alexandra, the youngest explorer, is more care-free and has a fascination for learning and defining new words that she learns along the way. Fanny, the most reserved and only married voyager, is more hesitant in the exploration, thinking everything they envision is immoral and inaccurate.
The actresses did a successful job performing these characters and taking on the role of a Victorian woman. Sarah Oschmann (Fanny), a senior theatre major, said, “We did a lot of research on the women our characters were based off of, so knowing their history really helped shape the way we thought about them. Costumes were the icing on the cake; once you are wearing it, you are that character. You live and breathe and move just like the women of that era.”
Though the actresses did a great job performing each of their characters, there were struggles along the way before they were successful on stage. Caitlighn Foley (Mary), a sophomore with a double major in theatre and accounting, stated, “Memorizing the script was horrendously nerve-wracking. I honestly wasn’t sure I could pull it off until the show opened.”
Each of the male characters and the creatures the women meet on their journey were played by one actor, John-Paul Deveglia, a junior biology major. He adapts from playing Fanny’s husband, a shy American banker, to Alfonse, an eccentric character with a German accent, to creatures such as a Yeti who speaks through growls and roars.
However, Deveglia not only did an excellent job becoming each of these nine characters, but he also brought an aura of comedy to the show with his extravagant character embellishments. “I always tried to entertain my family when I was younger,” Deveglia said, “so some of my voices came from silly things I would do around my house or among family or friends. That helped me out when I was figuring out how to approach each character.”
Overall, the production was very well-performed, entertaining and enlightening. Stephanie Madden (Alex), a junior double majoring in psychology and theatre, said, “The greatest reward from the show was not only sharing this wonderful experience with the director (Chase Rozelle), the stage manager, cast and crew, but also learning about the history of this country. I also learned how special and unique a woman traveler was during the 19th century,” Madden concluded.