February 8, 2012

Studio Theatre goes to the zoo

Sophomore October Santerelli has wanted to direct “Zoo Story,” written by Edward Albee, since he saw the play performed in high school.
He was amazed by the play, which he called “mind-blowing, amazing theater.”
The play tells the story of two strangers, Jerry (freshman Andrew Purvis) and Peter (sophomore Jon Hewelt), a man who is quietly stifled by the American Dream. The two meet when Jerry approaches Peter and tells him, “I went to the zoo.” Over the next hour, the men connect and break and tension rises until the play comes to its savage conclusion.
Since the fateful day when he first saw the play, Santerelli has read more works by Albee and even acted in a community theater production of “Zoo Story,” playing the role of the electric, desperate Jerry. When Santerelli had to pick a play to produce as his first bare stage one act, he knew his chance to fulfill his dream had come.
“If I am directing one play,” he said, “why not my favorite?”
Although he said it was intimidating to do a famous play by a famous playwright like Albee, Santerelli thought the play went well.
Santerelli was not the only former “Zoo Story” actor in the house. Brian Tibbets ’96, who played Peter in a Knox Studio Theater production during his junior year, came to see the show.
Although the play was the same, the productions were very different. While the production Tibbits was in was a fully staged show, this production was a bare stage production. The only props were the acting blocks that stood for the benches and a knife (which the theater department only allowed because of its particular importance to the plot). Although this change in staging might seem like an important difference, Tibbits said it was not.
“The core of the play doesn’t need a full set and lights; that’s why Albee’s so great,” Tibbits said. “It was great to see [“Zoo Story”] without all the hoopla.”
As he was watching the show, a lot of the lines came back. He was impressed by Hewelt’s portrayal of Peter.
“There are so many undercurrents to Peter,” Tibbits said. “I thought Jon did a great job playing that frustration.”
Sophomore Hannah Black did not know “Zoo Story” before she watched the play on Feb. 4. She said she liked seeing studio productions since the student-directed shows are very different from the professor-directed shows in Harbach Theatre.
She enjoyed how the empty stage allowed Purvis’s Jerry to flit around the stage.
“I liked how simple it was,” Black said.

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