Jane Jeffries (A12, far left), Colette Maimone and Maggie Reitz (A14, back middle), Alexandra Walling (A12, front middle), and Chang Liu (A14, right) perform as Clytemnestra and the Furies reacting to Apollo’s command to get out of his temple in Aeschylus’ Eumenides. On May 3 and 4, 2010 King William Players performed two 20-minute segments of Aeschylus’ Eumenides and Moliere’s Tartuffe in the original Attic Greek and French.
King William Players, St. John's College's theater troupe, is one of the college’s most enduring clubs. Like all St. John’s clubs, KWP is student-run. This allows the club to take on a diverse range of theatrical genres which reflect the changing interests of the Polity. Recent productions have ranged from classical selections, such as The Eumenides, Macbeth, and Tartuffe, to more modern works, including Duck Variations, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Urinetown the Musical. In addition to performing, student thespians are also welcome to write and direct plays. For example, KWP students wrote, directed, and performed the play, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, as well as the one-act musical, Red. Through KWP, students with a variety of interests have the opportunity to foster and hone their talents.
Unless otherwise noted, all plays take place in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium and are free and open to the public. The King William Players, the St. John’s student theater troupe, presents two performances each semester.
Gabriela Montequin (A15), 2013-2014 archon for the King William Players, talks with Paul Boonparlit (A14) about her plans for this year’s theater season at the Annapolis campus and the value of performing Program works. The King William Players will perform King Lear on April 25 at 8 p.m. in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium.
What’s new this year for the King William Players?
GM: One of the plays that we are doing is written by a current student, Nino Benashvili (A16), which is something we haven’t done in a while. A Door Made of Frosted Glass takes place in 2008 and is a coming-of-age story about a young man in the country of Georgia, where [Ms. Benashvili] is from.
Another upcoming production is Shakespeare's King Lear. Students are incredibly excited about this for many reasons. We started this production in June 2013 and will continue into April 2014, so we will have worked on this piece longer than any other production. We’re planning to give [the play] a slightly more contemporary feel, and casting will be open to students as well as tutors. King Lear will open on April 25 at 8 p.m. in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium.
How does theater enhance a liberal arts education?
GM: I wrote my freshman essay on Aristophanes’ Clouds, and I said in my oral that it’s funny that we write about the play from the text, which isn’t being performed. There’s a reason that [the work] is a play. The motion and the chemistry between the characters is something that you can’t just read from a book. When you’re [performing] on stage you live [the work]. You have to connect what you’re reading and what you’re thinking to the actual actions. [With the King William Players] I like to direct and act in plays that are from the Program to see a side of that work that you would not normally experience in seminar.
How do you choose an interpretation or perspective for how you want a play to be performed?
GM: That’s hard because like all art everything is subjective. There’s going to be one director that comes out ofKing Lear and says “King Lear has to be like this” or a director or an actor that says “This is what I see” when discussing stage direction. As in seminar, when we’re struggling with what’s actually motivating the person or what is happening, I think it is the same way when [doing] a play; except it’s even more drastic because people are really passionate about conveying what they see.
How can your experience with KWP help prepare you for life after St. John’s?
GM: I grew up acting in plays, and now I want to see how I can make them better. Theater is something that I really want to do; however, I might go into something [career-wise] that involves management, which would be a different kind of fit. One of the reasons that I came to St. John’s was because the college offers exploration into great works, and inspection into oneself.