Small Cast Offers Unique Experience

Rachel Jin, Lifestyle Editor

The Campolindo Drama presented Neil Simon’s Rumors from April 28-30.

Rumors chronicles a couple’s arrival at an upscale dinner party and the subsequent disarray after partygoers discover the host in a coma, having shot himself in the ear, and his wife gone.

Drama teacher and the play’s director Jamie Donohoe chose the play for its pace and tone. “When I read it, it was funny, it moved really fast, and we had the actors who were talented enough to pull it off,” he said.

“There was a few days of actors showing up and doing pieces from Rumors and showed me what they had. It was about 3 days of auditions,” said Donohoe of the casting process. Rehearsals spanned about 10 weeks, for a little over 2 hours every day after school.

The play was co-directed by seniors Sarah Santaguida and Julia Durski. “The directing process really helped me to appreciate what Donohoe does and what directors before me have done,” said Santaguida. “It’s a lot of work and it’s very stressful, but it’s also a really rewarding experience.”

“As a director, I get to take these really talented actors and work with them and create these moments that, when you put them all together, were really cool to see,” she added. “When I was an actor, I’d be like, ‘We’re fine. I know my line. We’re ready to go.’ But as a director, I was like, ‘We can do this better and this better.’ I was definitely more aware as a director of how much time we had left and all that we had to do.”

Santaguida said that her past experience with the actors was a key part of the directing process. “Having acted with them was very useful, because I knew what they could do and what they were capable of and how they work. That’s just invaluable,” she said.

Junior Rachel Jackson, who played Chris, echoed Santaguida’s preference for interpersonal familiarity between the cast and crew. “Honestly, it’s one of my favorite plays of the plays I’ve been in at Campo just because the cast was so small that everybody was able to form close connections with each other, and that helped with being on stage because everyone was very comfortable with each other. It was also just a fun play in general,” Jackson said.

However, there were challenges. Donohoe, for example, cited struggles to master a non-traditional speaking pace. “I actually found it more difficult than Shakespeare, in some respects, in that every single pause these actors wanted to do to produce natural speaking, we had to cut every pause out to keep the energy moving. That took a lot of time and effort.”

Jackson said that the small cast was a double-edged sword. “It meant that everyone was in a lot of the scenes. So if someone couldn’t make rehearsal, we wouldn’t be able to do half the scenes.”

Nevertheless, according to the directors, the hard work paid off.

“Throughout the process, we kind of did the scenes moment by moment,” explained Santaguida. “For example, I would have a moment of Glenn and Cassie, and then I’d move to Claire and Lenny. To watch the show with a real natural audience was incredibly cool, because I was able to step back from the whole ‘we need to do this, and this, and this’ mentality of a director and just watch all these moments strung together as a member of the audience. It went really well.”

“Someone came up later and said that it was the best Campo play they had seen,” said Jackson.

Donohoe said that the show was “fantastic. They kicked butt. Every single actor and character was strong.”