A Preview of the Fall Drama Production
If you’ve been in the Auditorium lately, you’ve probably seen the large structure in the middle of the floor. That is, in fact, the stage for the upcoming production, A Tale of Two Cities.
A Tale of Two Cities takes place during the French Revolution and the reign of terror. France is in turmoil, the aristocracy is overthrown, and the country becomes a bloodbath. Dickens, writing in 1857, takes the historical backdrop of the French Revolution and inserts a love story into it.
The central focus of the play is a love triangle between three characters: Charles Darnay, a Frenchman, Sydney Carton, an englishman, and Lucie Manette, the daughter of a man who’s been imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years. Lucie travels to France to get her father back, meets Charles Darnay, and falls in love. Years later, she gives witness at a trial in which Darnay is accused of being a spy after his evil uncle, the Marquis, framed him. Also present is Sydney Carton, a depressed lawyer who’s given up on life. However, when he meets Lucie in that trial, something awakens inside of him and he finds a purpose to live again. His hopes are shattered when he realizes that she’s in love with Darnay. One of the pivotal themes in the story is that the two men are almost identical. This will have a huge bearing on how the rest of the story will grow.
Seating for the production will be on either side of the stage in the center of the auditorium. One of the platforms represents England, while the other embodies France. They’re connected by a thin bridge across the Auditorium floor. During the show, you can see events going on in England at the same time that you can see events in France. Oftentimes, characters will cross the precarious bridge between the two countries as if they’re making the trip across the sea between them.
Charles came up with the idea for the stage while sketching during a free period. He proposed the idea of a bridge between the two platforms and also started the process of creating France with his suggestion of large arches and winding pathways up into the rafters. In contrast, England is portrayed with flowers, giving it a light and airy vibe.
Upon talking to Charles, he told me “originally, the production didn’t seem to want to live on the Auditorium stage. Once I discovered the concept of the bridge between two platforms, it just kind of took off. You have this big crazy structure for revolutionary France and a very neat and tidy space for England, with a narrow bridge between the two countries. With the audience on both sides of the bridge watching the play, you have this idea of a dichotomy, which is furthered by the separation between the two countries. It felt great to get off the stage and into the theater. It’s been several years since we’ve been able to take a production off the stage.”In addition to the stage on the floor of the Auditorium, the play also uses some of the space in the rafters of the building for France. Salil describes the country as “a crazy playscape, jungle-like creation. It’s very chaotic and unfinished and contains a lot of ladders and levels. It helps me stage certain scenes higher up than the rest of the play. There’s only one other show where we’ve had a stairway going up to the catwalk in the rafters, but the stairway in this show is a very natural extension of the stage in the center of the Auditorium, incorporating that area into the heights of 18th century Paris, which has a lot of layers of medieval construction with the Bastille.”
At least three days a week after school, the cast rehearses with Salil until 6:30 or 7:00. There are a large number of juniors and seniors in the play, some of them new, but the majority have been in CPS productions before. Salil knew that he would be able to take on the play because he had a maturing ensemble with lots of experienced upperclassmen. The cast for A Tale of Two Cities numbers 21 people, including two children: Maggie, Dr. Tinnemeyer’s daughter, and Sam, the brother of Logan (’17) and Abbie (’19).
On choosing the play, Salil remarks, “we picked this play to tell a great big beautiful love story. This play is very much about drama. Especially in light of the musical for next semester, Shrek, I thought we needed a more serious production this year. Furthermore, A Tale of Two Cities encompasses a lot of the elements of literature and history. In fact, we had both Dr. T and Dr. Wilson talk to the cast about the impact that those elements have on the production of the play. On the preview night, the two of them will open up the audience with a little panel discussion on the history and literature present in the play.”
Charles also voiced his opinion on the choosing of the play, saying, “There’s something about this show that’s really grabbed me. I like the chaotic form of it. It’s solidly done, but it can be really creative and weird at the same time. I like the time period and it’s a great crew to work with.”
Speaking of a great crew, here’s a list of both the cast and tech that have been hard at work these past few months to create this production:
Bryce B ………….Sydney Carton
Jacob L ……………Charles Darnay
Sameer J………….Jarvis Lorry
Alice W………………Lucie Manette
George V………………Dr. Alexandre Manette
Laura P…………..Miss Pross
Sofia B………Madame Defarge
Eli Q…………………Ernest Defarge, English Court, Guard at the Border
Hank S……………….Jerry Cruncher, Guard, Woodcutter (Jacques 4), Marquis’ Brother
Kye S……….Madame Gaspard/the Vengeance
Matt R………………Marquis St. Evremonde, Judge, French Citizen, Gaoler
Eli A…………………Gaspard, C.J. Stryver, French Citizen
Ross P……………….Jacques 1, Gabelle, Sick Girl’s Brother
Emma B…………………Roadmender (Jacques 4), Attorney General, French Citizen
Abbie J…………………Marquis’ Servant, Young Jerry, French Citizen, Sick Girl
Charlotte G…………………..Mrs. Cruncher, English Court, French Citizen, Marquis’ Wife
Karan B……………………John Barsad, French Citizen,
Natalie C…………………Roger Cly, French Citizen, Seamstress
Amaris C…………………….Jacques 3, Woman by the Graveyard, French Citizen, Jester
Showtimes are Friday, November 6 at 7:30, Saturday, November 7 at 7:30, and Sunday, November 8 at 2:00. Tickets can be reserved at this website: https://ataleoftwocities-collegeprep.eventbrite.com
photography by Martha C.