Actors react to opening weekend of play
Preparing for a role in a play written in the 1700s requires not only good acting, but also researching the era and immersion in the noble aristocracy in England.
“’The Beaux’ Stratagem’ was set over 300 years ago. Research was absolutely important,” said David Huynh, a second-year theatre graduate student who plays Tom Aimwell.
Aimwell poses as an aristocrat who gets his way with his charm and creative ideas.
“He is that friend you have that takes you out on a Friday night and wakes you up on Sunday morning with stories about the last two days,” Huynh said. “His plans may not always be thought out, which leads to hilarious situations, but he has a heart of gold to balance that out.”
Huynh directed his research toward the expectations of an English lord and the value of a pound in British currency.
Playwriting freshman Cameron Ross Alexander, who plays Scrub, begins with what the play says in the script and asks himself questions such as, “What do other characters say about my character?” or “What do I say about them?”
“Scrub is the definition of the all-knowing servant. He is forced to deal with all the quirky, crazy characters around him, and by the end of the show, he learns to embrace them and appreciate their ridiculousness,” Alexander said.
As the youngest cast member, he describes his role as one of the most difficult parts he has ever tackled. Alexander worked with the dramaturges in his research to get a better understanding of the time period in which the play is set.
“The final touches to my costume helped me feel more in-character as I waited backstage. The last thing that I did is put on the white gloves and glasses,” Alexander said.
Second-year graduate student Michael Thatcher, who plays Jack Archer, said that working out at the gym helped him speed up his inner tempo.
Thatcher was attracted to the role because of the similarities he noticed between himself and Archer.
“Jack Archer is the smartest guy in the room. He is at least two steps ahead of everyone else in the play,” Thatcher said. “He is smooth, witty, charismatic, quick, determined, both impulsive and calculated — and extremely charming.”
On working with Adam Noble
Alexander described working with director Adam Noble as a joy because of his immense amount of trust and respect for the cast.
“Adam has such an eye for the humor in this script and has an extraordinary way of encouraging us and guiding us to newer and bigger choices that make the show so comic,” Alexander said. “He has taught me the importance of playing in rehearsal, the importance of allowing yourself to make big character choices and to fail big in order to find out what works — after all, that is what rehearsals are for.”
Thatcher said Noble let the cast take rehearsal time to explore their characters without the text.
During the first week, he gave us very little direction and let us discover things for ourselves, which helped the cast bond very quickly. There was a sense of collaboration and trust between director and actor,” Thatcher said.
Alexander wants to raise the stakes and amp up the humor for the second showing, hoping to see a larger audience.
“After spending so much time in the rehearsal room fine-tuning this show, it was fantastic to hear 500-plus people rolling in their seats with laughter,” Huynh said.
“Opening weekend felt like we had the audience in the palms of our hands. I lost the feeling of ‘acting’ in front of an audience and simply got to share a story with 500 of my closest friends,” Thatcher said.
The first showings of “The Beaux’ Stratagem” took place last weekend, on Oct. 4, 5, and 6. The next showings will be this weekend at 8 p.m. on Oct. 10, 11 and 12 and at noon on Oct. 13 at the Wortham Theatre.