All Student Theatre to present a nutty good time with ‘Melancholy Play’

Isabella Neubauer | Senior Cadenza Editor

For the last couple of weeks, a set has slowly appeared on Beaumont Pavilion in the Brookings Quad. That set—and the continuously-occupied tent in the pit in front of the stage—mark the presence of All Student Theatre, whose spring production opens Thursday, April 11, and runs through Sunday.

This year, AST will perform “Melancholy Play,” which director Nathan Lamp describes as “a play about emotions, how we feel them, how they affect us and our relationships with others.”

Despite the depth of the subject matter, “Melancholy Play” is a comedy. It has “a lovely blend of tender, heartfelt and beautiful moments and over-the-top comedy,” Lamp wrote in a statement to Student Life, and directing the play “was a balancing act of finding the characters’ humanity while also letting them be silly.”

The play’s location on Brookings Quad also presented challenges, notably in the acoustics and lighting. However, the benefits far outweigh those challenges.

The location on Beaumont Pavilion and the staging “has also allowed us to create this intimate space between the audience and the actors,” AST president and show producer Jacque Randolph wrote. The audience will be seated onstage, which creates “this closeness between everyone involved. The audience can see and tap into what the actors are feeling on their journeys through the play, and vice versa, which is so important to the material.

That closeness with the audience and everyone’s excitement about the play are big factors when AST chooses their productions, Randolph said.

“We choose a director-show package, which gives us an opportunity to see students gush about shows that they are passionately connected to and how they want to share that with the rest of the Wash. U. community. And this was definitely one of those cases,” Randolph wrote.

Lamp said his favorite parts of the show are the costumes and the music.

“Our costume designer, Frieda Curtis, did an amazing job of creating costumes that both tell you important information about the characters’ personalities, as well as their emotional state. Also, we have live music that was created specifically for the show! Nick Massenburg-Abraham wrote all of the cello pieces in the play, performed by Claire Kozak,” Lamp wrote. That being said, he is also excited about “a particularly ‘nutty’ transformation that I won’t say any more about.”

Lamp said he was excited to direct “Melancholy Play” after exploring the beginning of the play in PAD professor Bill Whitaker’s Directing II class last year.

“I had a lot of fun diving into the play’s first eight scenes and I wanted a chance to get to do the whole thing,” Lamp wrote. “The play feels very relevant to the Wash. U. student community. I think we are expected to be high-achieving and happy, so when we feel sad we judge those feelings and try to fix them. I think the play invites us to honor how we feel and to take care of each other in times of emotional need.

That expectation of achievement is never more present than in finals season, which we are now rapidly approaching. While the events of the play aren’t exactly realistic—Lamp describes their “farcical, absurdist style” – the feelings they explore certainly are.

Randolph described “Melancholy Play” as “a celebration of life and all of its moments. It’s a love song to the melancholy that people feel when they look out the window or feel the rain on their hands.” Those emotions and the experiences it examines make it a “universal story.”

“Melancholy Play” runs from Thursday, April 10 until Sunday, April 14 with performances at 8 p.m. each day. Tickets are $5 and available in the DUC.

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