Hilarity, talent and a bit of surprise is set to hit the stage as the K-State Theatre program continues its season with the Tony Award winning comedy “God of Carnage.”
Audiences will experience the pains and joys that come with marriage and children this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Mark A. Chapman Theater, located in Nichols Hall.
“God of Carnage,” by award-winning French novelist and playwright Yasmina Reza, plays out an interaction between two married couples. The four parents are meeting to discuss an altercation their kids have at a playground. s the night goes on, accidents and mishaps push the pairs until their true motivations, desires and annoyances are revealed. The New York Times reviewed the original Broadway production, saying it was refreshing to see “good actors behaving terribly.”
“I was excited to work on it knowing that it won the Tony award for best play in 2009,” Jerry Jay Cranford, instructor in theatre and director of the show, said. “That to me was exciting, to take a piece that has this sort of thoroughbred history and explore. I actually started working on it and reading it last June.”
The four-person cast of “God of Carnage” is small, but diverse. Clay Massingill, Mark Young and Amanda Garvey, freshman, junior and senior in theatre respectively and Dani Golway, junior in mass communications, make up the group of actors who bring the story to life.
“I’ve had to find a little bit of myself in a character who isn’t exactly a savory character,” Garvey said. “I’ve had to find how I can believe in the things she says and what she believes. And she isn’t exactly a nice person.”
Regular K-State theatergoers will recognize Massingill, Golway and Young from productions last semester, while Garvey makes her return to the Chapman stage from last year.
“Working with Jay is definitely different than any other director I’ve worked with before, but every director is different,” Garvey said. “I’ve also never been in a cast this small or worked this fast to put a show on its feet. I’m very proud of the teamwork we’ve exhibited together and how we’ve really helped each other through this process.”
Choice of actors was especially important for this show, as critics of the work claim that the script itself is nothing noteworthy, but the nuances of the actors brought out the play’s comedy. “God of Carnage” won Tony Awards in 2009 for Best Play, Best Actress, won by Marcia Gray Harden and Best Director, Matthew Warchus.
Still, Cranford said he has had his work cut out for him.
“It’s up to the director to decide how far the arguments go, and how physical they become,” Cranford said. “Those aren’t given to you in the script, so it’s been fun exploring that aspect with these four people and how far we can push that physicality, that tension, the arguments, those dynamics.”
Rehearsals for the group began while most K-State students were still relaxing at home or abroad.
“We began early during the Christmas break. The students and I came back Jan. 7 to begin rehearsals,” Cranford said. “We rehearsed like a professional theatre company until school started in that we rehearsed from 10 to 5. It’s certainly easier to corral a group of four students over Christmas break than it would have a large cast. The drawback is, any time the cast is smaller, it puts a greater burden on the actors. Everything – memorization, blocking, there aren’t the numbers to divvy up the material. It relies heavily on these four people.”
As show time approaches, Cranford said that this show will turn out to be “fun, intriguing and interesting” and will also include a surprising special effect that the audience will enjoy or “find slightly disturbing.”
Either way, the point of all theatre, especially student theatre, according to Cranford, is to be seen.
“First off, I would say, for all of the thousands that support all of the athletic teams, I would beg you to support some of your fellow K-State students that are doing some amazing work on the other side of campus,” Cranford said. “Part of their training is being in front of an audience and we need you to come help them grow. Also, it’s quick, it’s fun, and if you enjoy all the reality TV shows and what happens when they reel out of control, then this would be a great show for you to come and see.”
Cranford also said that, while the show is, at face value, a raucous comedy, a deeper message can be found if the audience is willing to find it.
“What I hope they take from this is how ridiculous we can become in any given circumstance,” Cranford said. “I tie it into reality television, especially into the real housewives. We take fragile people and sort of put them in front of us. We cheer for them to fight and belittle themselves. What I hope this show does is speak to us and make us say, ‘I will never act like these people.’ I hope it speaks a little to our humanity.”