Jessalyn Johnson is a senior at Grand Canyon University, completing the final year of her BA in English Literature. Originally from Melbourne, FL, Jessalyn has come to enjoy living in the desert of Arizona. Since freshman year she has occupied several different positions on the editorial board of GCU’s literary review, StartleBloom, which is approaching its third volume. In her free time, Jessalyn enjoys creative writing, photography, writing music and participating in the plays and musicals put on by GCU’s Ethington Theatre.
This month, Grand Canyon University’s cast of Moliere’s “Tartuffe” will take the stage in a classic theatrical production to be entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). Late September, the cast, director and stage management team began the rehearsal process for a show many student designers have been working on for months. And now, we are quickly approaching opening night at Ethington Theatre!
Everything is Not What it Seems
In this comedy, a household is divided by Tartuffe, played by sophomore Levi Roberts, a manipulative houseguest who isn’t who he claims to be. The set, designed by junior Keeli Rodriguez, is fun and mind-bending, following the plot’s theme of everything not being what it seems.
Something unique about this particular play, in comparison to the many other wonderful plays put on by the Ethington Theatre, is the hair design. Instead of having the actors and actresses get their hair done by crew members each night, student wig technicians will help them into specially and individually crafted Styrofoam wigs, designed by junior Trustin Adams, who you may have seen play the narrator in the “The Good Doctor.”
The wigs are intricate and full of life, providing a new dimension to each character. Adams is a perfect example of the theater’s saying “every hand, every show,” as he transitioned from carrying a performance as a lead actor to working behind the scenes as a designer for the next. The hard work put in by College of Fine Arts and Production students shines through as abilities and talents in a number of creative outlets.
A First Time for Everything
Junior Tarnim Bybee is playing her cards for the first time as lighting designer, a title usually held by College of Fine Arts and Production dean and director Claude Pensis. Bybee typically wears an actress hat and has shown what she can do on stage in past shows, such as “West Side Story,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “Suessical.” Bybee recently designed a light plot that came to life over the mainstage with the help of selected students, as they set their weekend aside to help Bybee actualize and execute her vision.
Similarly, actress and senior James Coblentz (previously seen in “The Good Doctor,” “Our Town” and “All My Sons”) is now acting as prop designer, a position she is quite familiar with. After designing and creating a dozen wands for last season’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Coblentz is returning to make more magic on stage with props for “Tartuffe,” including some fun surprises the audience is sure to get a laugh out of.
Each costume is designed by senior Marija Petovic, who regularly works in the costume shop making and piecing together wardrobe outfits for Ethington productions. Every design aspect of the show, including Petovic’s costumes, are carefully weighed and created to complement one another for clear, fluid ideas to be portrayed on the stage. The designers stayed in constant communication about their concepts and ideas to ensure the theme remained consistent throughout the pre-production and production processes.
Other designers and contributors for this show include Emily Ward as the show’s dramaturg and Taylor Harrison as the stage manager, with help from assistant stage managers Clinton Slay and me.
Tartuffe opens on October 13 and closes October 22. For details on performances and how to get tickets, visit the event page on GCU’s website. Make sure to grab a seat for a fantastic show, and come support our hard-working students and friends who put their hearts into making wonderful show!
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