Last Thursday, The Oregon Center of The Arts (OCA) at Southern Oregon University (SOU) opened the final show of their 2017-2018 season with a production of J.M Barrie’s Dear Brutus. It presents to the audience a colorful and light hearted show while also telling a story of the possibility of changing one’s faults in order to improve their value of life.
Written by the same author of Peter Pan, the world Barrie created in his work demonstrates elements from Peter Pan and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It features light heartedness throughout while still including dark undertones written for a more adult audience. The play presents an atmosphere centered around the magical elements that the story feeds off of.
David McCandless, Director of Dear Brutus and professor at SOU, considered the play a “neglected gem that are not very well known at all that deserves to be better know.”
Referencing how SOU, as an educational theatre company, can bring attention plays like this one over those deemed more popular. McCandless explained that ideas of a change of pace is one but not the only theme “that can be interpreted from the play.” Other messages that can be found in this play include helping those in need and understanding the power of fate within the characters. All things that audience members will come to realize by the performance’s conclusion.
The emphasis on magic throughout the play made creating a light hearted and mysterious world for the performance crucial, and lighting design wa
s carefully considered to help fit the piece’s mood. Lindee Newman, a junior at SOU and lighting designer for Dear Brutus, wanted to create the world of the play as one full of light and color. She explained that lighting was challenging because she wanted to incorporate the beauty and brightness of the moonlight and stay true to the forest setting.
Newman chose to shine a green light “…on the backdrops for the trees [in the forest] because it was not on anybody’s skin,” and overpowering them in a stage performance setting. As for the moonlight, Newman’s creative process was influenced by natural blue lighting she noticed at nighttime when looking at the contrast of an actor’s skin and the saturation of the bright moonlight.
To do this, she had to incorporate blue undertones to the production while also keeping actors from “…looking like a smurf,” joked the lighting designer. She also associated other colors to the world to give it a more magical feel to the world. For example, the show used purple to reference the unnatural. Newman explained, “Whenever hinting that something magical was coming,” she used shades of purple to set up the scene.
With Dear Brutus being the final show of the season, progressing theatre students are finding a focus within their degree. For Dominic DValentine, the lighting board operator for the show, this show has helped him determine on continuing on the lighting path. He plans on continuing his theatre degree with an focus in stage lighting as he approaches his second year.
He explained his enjoyment at “…staying up until 3:00 A.M. for a solid week, not because of the lack of sleep, but because I was able to hang out with some of the greatest friends I made this year for hours on end.”
“The feelings of friendship and collaboration which were ever-constant through the process,” described DValentine on the long hours students go through during tech week. Although the company will part ways for the summer, they will join together again in the Fall for next seasons shows: Into the Woods and Small Mouth Sounds.
Dear Brutus, located in the Theatre Building’s Black Box Theatre, will continue with shows through the weekend: matinees at 2:00 P.M. on Saturday June 2 and Sunday June 3, and nighttime performances on Thursday May 31, Friday June 1, and Saturday June 2 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets for seniors are $18, for students are $6, for faculty and alumni are $10, and regular tickets are $21.