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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Sense & Sensibility makes sense of community

PRACTICE+MAKES+PERFECT.+William+Hanna+and+Grace+Medrano+listen+as+Director+Eric+Severson+gives+instructions.
Thomas Kovarik
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. William Hanna and Grace Medrano listen as Director Eric Severson gives instructions.

Director of SPA’s theater program Eric Severson was ultimately responsible for the decision to perform Sense & Sensibility for the school play this fall. The cast, performing playwright Kate Hamill’s adaptation of the classic tale by Jane Austen, rehearses after school starting mid-September to prepare for their performances.

Severson’s goal in choosing plays is to think about a four-year cycle, switching the genre every year in that rotation so students can experience a variety of styles of theater. Last year’s play, The Trojan Women, was a Greek tragedy and more intense than a lot of other genres.

“I wanted to try to find something that was a bit more humorous, a bit more upbeat. There were several that I was leaning towards, and this one just spoke to me,” Severson said.

Sense & Sensibility centers around two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who respectively represent sense and sensibility (or, in other words, fact-based logic and sensitivity). After their father dies, the two move to a cottage in Devonshire, where they face a number of romantic dilemmas.

Adaptations of Jane Austen’s work are typically written by men, so Severson wanted a different perspective for this year’s play: “She, as a young female-identifying performer, wanted to write work that was written by women and classical work that was offering great female identifying roles for women on stage,” he said.

Hamill’s adaptation incorporates social commentary in interesting ways, showing the two sisters dealing with social pressures and posing the question of whether it is better to follow the rules society has set for women or break them.

Senior Savannah Switzer, who plays Elinor Dashwood, said, “[Elinor] is trapped in a world that is based on a patriarchal society in which she is regarded as useless until she is happily married and settled.”

Severson called the connection between the setting of 1790’s England and Hamill’s commentary on modern society beautiful. The adaptation addresses the issues women have to face, but also, Severson said, “any individual that chooses not to follow those strict rules.”

Everyone who auditions gets offered a role in the play, but there are still some roles that are bigger or smaller than others. Seniors and juniors often get the bigger roles.

Rehearsals have begun with the basics. “So far it’s mostly been blocking,” freshman Eva Johnson said. “Just writing down in our scripts when our cues are and where we are supposed to be.”

People will be called up to practice the scenes they are onstage for while others sit and watch until it’s their turn. Johnson plays a servant and Mrs. Ferrars, the mother of Elinor’s love interest, Edward. These are smaller roles, so she does homework or watches the other actors when she’s not blocking a scene.

The cast has been working with Jillian Constable, a dialect coach, to develop their British accents.

“We’re going to have her working with smaller groups so they can really fine tune and hone in on the lines that they’re speaking,” Severson said. “It’s really quite fun.”

I think [rehearsal] brings people together, because of course there are the actors, but there are also all the people who do tech and play the music. There are a lot of people who have come together to put on the show.

— Eva Johnson

Aside from preparing for the performance, rehearsals provide an opportunity for people who might not otherwise know each other to connect.

Johnson said, “I think [rehearsal] brings people together, because of course there are the actors, but there are also all the people who do tech and play the music. There are a lot of people who have come together to put on the show.”

After being in the one-acts, spring musical, and working on crew for the fall play last year, sophomore Cosette Switzer agrees: “I’ve met a lot of great people through theater, with similar interests.”

Sense & Sensibility will take place Nov. 17-18 at 7 p.m., on the Huss stage. Performances are free and open to the public.

Cosette Switzer said, “It’s a long process, but it’s worth it in the end.”

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Ivy Evans, Staff Writer
My name is Ivy (they/he). I work as a Staff Writer for The Rubicon, RubicOnline and Ibid yearbook. At school, I’m involved in jazz band, Fish Club, and Rainbow Connection. I love to play guitar and write short stories. I can be reached at [email protected].
Thomas Kovarik, Photojournalist
Hi, my name is Thomas Kovarik(he/him). I am a photojournalist for RubicOnline. I am involved in skiing and tennis at school. I like camping and staying active. I can be reached at [email protected].

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