‘Fallen’ actors pick up old stories with graceful aerials

The new UAA play known as “Fallen” has a lot for audiences to look forward to. Not only will actors be presenting a script collaborated by UAA students with the help of guest directors, but the students will be showing off new acrobatic moves from the trapeze to silk and rings
“Fallen” is a play that focuses on the women of the Old Testament. Although this seems to have a religious overtone to it, the play is more concerned with looking at six specific women and their stories, and telling them from a new perspective with new ideas behind them.
“We’ve looked at these particular women because we found their stories to be the most interesting and the play as a whole is kind of about what is it like when you get kicked out of your home and you have to find another place to go,” Director Allison Williams said.
Guest directors Williams and Zay Weaver run the acrobatic troupe Aerial Angels, a performance group based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. These professionals are also in Anchorage preparing for a large circus-like touring show called “Stand Up Eight.” The Aerial Angels group is famous for performing acrobatics on hanging silk and rings, so it makes sense that when they come to direct a show at UAA, it will have all this thrown in and more.
Williams and Weaver have brought together all UAA students, excluding one high school student on an exchange, to act in this show. The students all contributed their ideas and work to the script, and edits were made with each read-through. Not only did these students have to develop their own script, all but two had never done anything like professional acrobatics before. Rachael Donaldson is one exception, and student Anthony Oliva took a workshop with Aerial Angels last year and has since practiced such acrobatics.
“We have two ringers in that Anthony got interested in this after out workshop last year. and then our girl Rachael, who is Anthony’s partner on the trapeze. is a former gymnast,” Williams said. “Everyone else has no experience in this at all. Everything they do they have learned in the time that we’ve had, which I think is really amazing and cool.”
“It’s acting like physically, you know. You use a lot more body language. You use a lot more power moves but there is also motion behind them,” Oliva said while discussing his duet trapeze routine with Donaldson. “Our duet is this love story [of Samson and Delilah]. There’s this intense passion between them so you have to find a way to get that through physicality. That’s just awesome.”
It is not a question of being perfectly fit, but there is no doubt that the stunts in this play took serious dedication from every single actor and actress involved. Conditioning has been a key part of the show with an extensive workout required before the end of each rehearsal.
“It’s a big commitment. because I’m out to ten every night and up at six every morning. I don’t know. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. There are so many cool people involved and there are so many new skills you learn because it’s such a unique project,” said Barney Tennyson, an exchange student from New Zealand.
The students have had five and a half weeks to prepare for this show. Its opening night of Friday, April 3, will certainly be interesting. Ticket prices are $15 except for Sunday shows, which are only $12. Combined with a unique script and a high-flying performance, “Fallen” promises to be a unique experience for all who attend.