Inspired by the chaos of the 1921 riots in Rome, Luigi Pirandello’s boldly dramatic piece “6 Characters in Search of an Author” still manages to captivate audiences to this day. The Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theater Arts at John Carroll University now has the pleasure of presenting a more modern version of the play on stage in the Kulas Auditorium.
Director Karen Gygli, associate professor of theater at John Carroll University, stated, “Directing this particular show turned out to be a lot of fun.” Gygli seemed to make good use of the entire auditorium through the strategic movement of the all student cast. They moved about the stage and down into the aisles to bring the audience members into the rush of their fictional reality.
In this way, viewers are spectators behind the scenes on the set of a completely normal but entirely different stage production coincidentally by Pirandello.
The play depicts actors preparing for their next scene and a very angry director, played by freshman Allie Sparrow, who seems to be having a bad day as she yells out directions to her poor assistant, played by sophomore Bre’Onna Mays-Taylor.
Suddenly, the rehearsal is interrupted by the eerie appearance of a mourning family dressed in black. They are six lost souls demanding to not only tell their tragic tale, but to relive every moment of it in their own production before the surprised cast and crew. They simply desire an author who will write down their story as they tell it.
As the show progresses, there is a hilarious battle between the family and the initial actors. Then it is ultimately up to the director to decide who has what it takes to act out this compelling story as the audience watches the appalling details unfold and tear the family apart.
“The drama is in us and we are the drama,” was one of the many interesting and powerful lines spoken by sophomore Mitchell Clifford, who played the father of the strange clan.
Clifford stood out with his impressive delivery of very long monologues, which he fearlessly tackles. He is accompanied by tremendous talent on the stage including freshman Elissa Filozof who played the deeply mourned matriarch of the family, and junior Dereck Sullivan as the extremely disillusioned son.
There also were two young faces added to the stage. Shaker Heights resident, Nick Bilkie played the Little Boy while the adorable seven-year-old Lucy Beck held her own onstage with the college actors as the Little Girl.
The child actors added to the mystery of the family in black, as neither of the children spoke any lines and sorrowfully walked around the stage.
The star of this show was junior Veronica Zielinski. She did an excellent job of portraying the role of the angry step-daughter. It was Zielinski’s variety of raw emotion that sent chills throughout the auditorium, grabbing the audeince’s attention. She commanded the stage, using her character’s strong rage and sorrow. Her pain and suffering could be felt through the sharp delivery of her monologues.
It was the monologues that turned out to be the toughest challenge for the cast of this production of “6 Characters in Search of an Author.”
Towards the beginning of the show there was an obvious sense of this challenge as some of the actors stumbled over the wordy phrases but, in theater, the show must always go on.
Gygli noted after the show, “The actors did have some trouble with the piece because it is very wordy. However, I think that this will be a great production as they work to get through it.”
The cast proved to be very professional and did not let Pirandello’s challenging writing affect their performances. To that, all the actors in this performance should be commended.
“6 Characters in Search of an Author” will be performed on Friday, Nov. 13th and Saturday, 14th at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 15th at 2:00 p.m. in the Kulas Auditorium.