Theater 4 performs Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘Black Snow’

Black Snow rehearsal

By Abby Terrill | Staff Writer

Theater 4 students performed their first show of the season, Black Snow by Mikhail Bulgakov, on Oct. 1 and 4 in the auditorium. The class has been practicing for the show since the beginning of the year.

The show starred senior Jack Durham as Sergei Maxudov, a down-on-his-luck writer living in communist Russia. Sergei writes a novel that gets adapted into a play. However, his play is constantly censored and rewritten by producers to the point where it becomes unrecognizable. The play ends with a depressed and overwhelmed Sergei committing suicide.

“I chose to do this show because I wanted us to perform something challenging,” director and Theater 4 teacher Heather Biddle said. “Also, last year’s juniors chose it to perform as seniors this year.”

Rehearsals for the show began on the first day of school for Theater 4. After assigning roles, the group had daily practices during the class as well as after-school rehearsals in late September and early October. With the play’s many monologues, the show’s extra focus on dialogue and memorizing lines became one of the challenges faced by the cast.

“I basically practiced through hours of agonizing memorization,” said Jack, who as the main character had a vast majority of the dialogue.

In addition to memorizing dialogue, portraying characters in an interesting and appropriate manner was an obstacle. Nearly all of the cast had more than one character to play, and differentiating between characters was necessary.

“Because I was playing so many characters,” senior Pierce Nelson said, “I had to really think about my surroundings and how I was going to perform.”

Despite the show’s dark and depressing theme, the play is considered a comedy because it has many comedic tones. Laughter was common among the audience during the performance. While the actors were looking to make the audience laugh, they wanted them to contemplate the show’s messages as well.

“I wanted them to see how frustrating censorship can be, and especially because it’s become such a major problem in our society,” Jack said.

With this show complete, Theater 4 students are now beginning rehearsals for their annual children’s show. The class will perform The Jungle Book for elementary students across RISD later this semester.

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