Saturday, May 25

Out of darkness

Wednesday, March 4, 1998

Out of darkness

THEATER: Family tragedy, birth of universe UCLA’s topics in
productions of "Les Cenci" and "Origen"

By Sam Toussi

Daily Bruin Contributor

Two plays to be performed at the Little Theater at Macgowan Hall
in repertory will offer a multinational effect. Whereas "Les Cenci"
offers French talent alongside UCLA talent, "Origen" meshes many
cultures in search of something new.

"Les Cenci" is a play based on the historical account of Count
Cenci, a cold and cruel Roman nobleman who killed his sons and
raped his daughters. The sons he did not kill went on to plan an
assassination of their violent father.

"It’s a revelation of violence and family, a microcosm of our
society," says director Rene Migiliaccio. "It shows that the cycle
of violence has no real end."

Written by poet and playwright Antonin Artaud in the 1930s, the
play is based Percy Shelley’s interpretation of the events.

"Artaud considered himself more of a poet but his plays changed
the way we look at plays today," Migiliaccio says. "His work was
very avant-garde."

The play is a collaborative process between UCLA, University of
Paris 6 and University of Paris 7. Migiliaccio, a French
professional director, has taken the helm of this play and brought
his unique style of theater to UCLA’s own Little Theater.

"It’s very movement-oriented," Migiliaccio says. "All my plays
are done this way. The movements of the actors are meant to reveal
their thoughts and emotions beyond the words they say on

Migiliaccio’s style of direction is extremely challenging for
any actor, but Migiliaccio is pleased with how well the students
have taken to his style.

"They are very talented," Migiliaccio says. "The whole process
has been very simple."

"Origen," a play conceived by Ruben Polendo, attempts to
establish a new myth. The new story takes elements from multiple
cultures around the world.

"It’s something new," Polendo says. "We did all this research in
other cultures and we found all sorts of things that relate to who
we are now."

Polendo, who hesitates to say he wrote "Origen," prefers to say
he conceived the project. Together with dramaturge Campbell
Brittin, as well as his cast, Polendo used the collaborative
process to compose the bulk of the play.

"It was the idea of creating a myth and we researched myths and
ideologies from around the world," Polendo says. "The project comes
from an idea of mine that we’ve lost our idea of God and of
mythology and every myth we encounter is so ancient and so far
removed. That’s what drew me to the project."

The collaborative process drew the actors to the project and
allowed them to experience a more personal approach to theater.

"It’s certainly a different process from any other show I’ve
worked on," says cast member Piper Harroll. "With mainstage shows,
you get more money, your design becomes immense, but you also get
this hype that’s hard to live up to. There’s not as much hype here
so you can concentrate on what matters more. It was definitely more
personal, it’s hard to qualify it with other shows."

The close personal nature of the play as well as its process led
the cast to grow close during rehearsal.

Cast member Arrion Doss adds, "We’ve definitely become a family
during rehearsal."

The closeness the cast experienced did much to help each member
grow as an actor.

"Working on this show, I’ve really learned to listen," Harroll
says. "It’s such a small cast that if you don’t start listening and
knowing that you’re going to gain from what they have to
contribute, the beauty and talent they bring, you’re going to find
that you’ve stopped growing."

Though the idea of creation-theater is not a new one, Polendo
and the cast of "Origen" have combined their multi-cultural
research with pervading societal situations.

"It’s based on our conceptions of creation and gods and what it
means to be human," Polendo says.

"Since we live in this society that is so speed-driven, we never
really get a chance to stop and think about these things. The
production is based on that speed, though, because everybody’s so
used to that overstimulation. I’m not going to fight that, I’ll use

THEATER: "Origen" will play March 3,6, 7, 11, 12, 14. "Les
Cenci" will play March 4, 5, 7, 10, 13, 14. The plays will be
performed at the Little Theater at Macgowan Hall. Tickets are $15,
$10 for senior citizens and $7 for students. Call (310) 825-2101
for more information.

photos by INGA DOROSZ

(above) Melanie Case, who plays both Andrea and an assassin,
turns to speak with Claudio Raygoza, who plays Camillo. (left
picture) (Left to right) Nikolai Kinski, playing Orsino, Case,
Summer-joy Main, playing Beatrice and Massimikiano Cosati, playing
Prince Colonna, perform in UCLA’s student

production of "Les Cenci."


Melanie Case, who plays both Andrea and an assasin, turns to
Claudio Raygoza as Camillo.

Main, as Beatrice, casts a shadow on the wall.

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