“Playhouse Creatures” creates reflection of women in theatre

The first production of the semester from UAA’s Department of Theatre and Dance kicks off next weekend.

Colavecchio and Padrick as their characters, Nell and Mrs. Farley Photo credit: Department of Theatre and Dance
Padrick and Colavecchio rehearsing their parts in Playhouse Creatures Photo credit: Department of Theatre and Dance

The cast of “Playhouse Creatures” can be found perfecting their sword-fighting as they rehearse for the opening night of the department’s first theatre show of the 2018-19 season.

April De Angelis’ “Playhouse Creatures” is set during the Restoration era, focusing on five women who are based on some of the first female theatre actors in England. The play looks at what it was like to be a female actress in those times, where it wasn’t necessarily a normal sight to see.

“We don’t get a lot of opportunities to tell stories about women, by women, for women, so this opportunity is fantastic,” Becca Padrick, senior theatre performance student who plays Elizabeth Farley, said.

The story includes issues that female actors dealt with during the time the play is set, around 1660, and still may be dealing with in today’s day and age. Some of these issues include becoming “too old” to continue acting, becoming a mother or being “too outspoken.”

“There are actresses all the time that get in those situations where they become ‘uncastable’ for some reason … so [“Playhouse Creatures]” has this lovely reflection that all this stuff is happening in the Restoration and is still happening now,” Brian Cook, director, said.

The play has some comedy, sword-fighting and unique, handmade costumes to offer.

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Colleen Metzger, costume designer for the theatre and dance department, started working on costumes for this play during the summer. She “rust-dyed” the costumes, laying pieces of rusty metal over the fabric and allowing it to leave imprints.

“The decay on their costumes is the decoration; so, rather than traditional distressing of making it look worn down or worn in, the dirt is creating the patterns on the garments,” Metzger said.

The cast and crew have been rehearsing since mid-September with rehearsals Monday through Thursday for three hours each night. They are looking forward to opening night.

“It’s a lot of hours, but in the end, it’s definitely worth it,” Angela Colavecchio, senior theatre student, said.

Colavecchio is fulfilling the role of Nell Gwyn in what will be her eighth UAA theatre production.

“There’s stage magic that doesn’t get captured in film or another medium where everything is happening right in front of you,” she said.

“It’s been really fantastic to work with an amazing group of women because we’re all portraying an amazing group of women,” Devan Hawkins, senior social work student playing the role of Mary Betterton, said. “I think that bond comes through on stage.”

The students cast as the five main female characters include Hawkins, Colavecchio, Padrick, Paitton Reid and Mo Garrigues.

“Playhouse Creatures” opens Friday, Oct. 26 and closes Nov. 4. Plays are held in the Fine Arts Building’s mainstage theatre on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. Tickets are $9.99 for students, $14.99 for seniors and military and $19.99 for the general public. They can be purchased at artsuaa.com. There is a free, student preview night on Thursday, Oct. 25. This play contains partial nudity and may not be suitable for everyone.