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Juniata Theatre's 'Big Love' Updates Classic Greek Play

(Posted February 15, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - "Big Love," a dark comedy full of romance, laughter and a bit of tragedy, will be re-interpreted as a dance-centric production as the Juniata College Theatre Department presents their version of a Greek classic comedy. The play runs from Thursday, Feb. 18 to 20 at 7:30 p.m. and from Thursday, Feb. 25 to 27 at 7:30 p.m.

The play will be staged in the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus. Tickets for the play are $7 for adults and $4 for students. To inquire about tickets and other information, please call (814) 641-3000.

"The set is created to imitate the scene of a wedding where brides are on one side and grooms on the other. We are going to ask the audience to sit that way as well, with males on one side and females on the other, producing an aura of opposition."
Nate Dryden, director, The Gravity Project

"I construed 'Big Love' into more of a physical movement theatre production, with a mix of choreography and improvisation to awaken the drama within the comedy," says Nate Dryden, The Gravity Project artist, choreographer, aerialist, and director of the production. The Gravity Project is Juniata's professionally affiliated theatre company.

"Big Love," written by Charles Mee, a historian turned playwright, is an updated version of one of the western world's oldest plays, "The Supplicants," by Aeschylus. The ancient Greek version is a story of war between men and women.

Following suit, the plot for "Big Love" centers on 50 young brides who rebel against their arranged marriages to their cousins. The brides flee to Italy hoping to seek asylum, but the grooms pursue them.

Love, gender wars, and resorting to force are the comic situations that create the dramatic tension that leaves the audience on the edge of their seats wondering who will prevail.

"The set is created to imitate the scene of a wedding where brides are on one side and grooms on the other," explains Dryden. "We are going to ask the audience to sit that way as well, with males on one side and females on the other, producing an aura of opposition."

The lighting for the set will also evoke emotions as it attempts to capture the breathtaking sunsets seen in Italy.

Sets will include various aerial elements, as well as sections of singing, hilarious dialogue, and dramatic movement -- all part of this battle of the sexes. "The physical movement borders on dance, but it is not the kind of dance that resembles ballet," says Dryden.

The members of the cast are: Susanne Makosky, a sophomore from Greensburg, Pa.; Melissa Mellon, a senior from Patton, Pa.; Brenna Fredrickson, a junior from Fairfax Station, Va.; Dylan Belnavis-Flexner, a sophomore from Landenberg, Pa.; Ben Mahan, a freshman from Havertown, Pa.; Kevin Whitmire, a junior from Enola, Pa.; Jack Berkebile, a senior from Latrobe, Pa.; Andrew Orsie, a junior from Summit Point, W.Va.; Marcie Chamberlain, a senior from Williamsburg, Pa.; Nate Frieswyk, a junior from Bel Air, Md.; Alyssa Erb, a senior from Hollidaysburg, Pa.; and Tess Ginley, a sophomore from Gaithersburg, Md.

Five members of The Gravity Project, Juniata's professional theatre ensemble, will be involved in parts of the production. Kate Clarke is assistant director and vocal coach; Jessie Sullivan is the technical director; Daniel Pinha is designing the set; Jennifer Paar is designing costumes; and Maria Shaplin is lighting designer.


Written by: Molly Sollenberger


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.