Each evening this week, a group of students dressed in Elizabethan garb will practice sword fights and rehearse their lines. In addition to gearing up for finals, these students have Shakespeare on the brain.
Tonight and tomorrow night, a 17-person cast from Shakespeare at UCLA will perform the tragedy “King Lear.”
Mallin Alter, a fourth-year theater student and president of Shakespeare at UCLA, is the director of “King Lear.” She said this is her first time directing a production, though she has previously acted in performances of “Richard III,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Julius Caesar.” She also designed costumes for last winter’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Alter said she applied to direct “King Lear” because it is her favorite Shakespeare play and the one that most held her attention.
“I first read it in high school and usually I’d have trouble reading (Shakespeare), but I was actually able to sit down and read through that one,” Alter said. “I chose it because it has a lot of good female roles as well. … I’m also really fascinated by the portrayal of evil and the nature of evil.”
As the director, Alter said she is responsible for helping the actors find the right voices for their characters, as well as coordinating the staging of each scene.
Since the play was cast at the end of fall quarter, Alter said she and the actors have been working to coordinate their schedules so they can rehearse their lines and movements on and off stage.
“It’s actually quite a miracle that we’re all able to get together,” Alter said. “We rehearse in the evenings after everybody’s done with classes. It’s been quite a challenge.”
Alter also said the main challenge right now is making sure that all of the actors are on top of their lines and ensuring that the show flows properly from scene to scene.
“It’s a pretty long show, and I made a lot of cuts,” Alter said. “Just keeping the momentum going is probably our main challenge right now.”
Fourth-year anthropology student John Cody Fasano plays the title role in the production and said he was encouraged by a friend to audition for “King Lear.”
“I tried out and that weekend I got the call sheet and at the top of the call sheet it said ‘King Lear – John Cody Fasano,’” said Fasano, who had previously acted while in high school and community college. “I had done some acting before, but not as much as the people who are dedicated to theater.”
Fasano also said one of the most difficult things about preparing for his role is balancing the demands of a theater schedule and a school schedule, especially during the final weeks leading up to the opening performance.
Now that the group’s rehearsal time has come to an end, Alter said she is most looking forward to seeing her production come to life tonight, while also getting some rest once the performances are complete.
“I think it will be interesting to see the audience’s reaction,” Alter said. “The actors have been working so hard, so I’m looking forward to having positive feedback for them. It’s always exciting putting on a show.”