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    Theater production evokes shades of ‘blu’


    Courtesy of Angelina Duarte

    From left to right, Angelina Duarte, Andy Gonzales, Eliicia Villasenor, Daniel Acosta, Myani Watson and Nicholas Rivas, the cast of “blu,” pose for a photo during rehearsal at the Harold Dixon Directing Studio in the Drama building in February. The play runs Thursday through Sunday.

    A story of family hardships, gang violence and racial issues, “blu,” a play written by Virginia Grise, is opening Thursday as part of the School of Theatre, Film and Television’s Studio Series.

    The show is being performed for three days, but the production team has put in weeks of time and effort into rehearsals. Directed by Marc Pinate, producing director at the local Borderlands Theater, “blu” features a cast and crew of students, some of whom are theatre majors and others simply interested in putting on a show.

    Angelina Duarte, a theatre sophomore, is playing the part of Gemini, the depressed, troubled middle child of three in a dysfunctional Chicana/o family. Duarte said, at first, it was difficult for her to relate to Gemini, because the background and experiences she has in the play are unlike anything Duarte has gone through in her own life. But as the production progressed from script to stage, she has been able to grasp her character’s essence and said she hopes the audience will be able to empathize with Gemini and the other characters.

    “The play has to deal with how children nowadays — if they do have hardships in their lives — usually lose the ability to dream,” Duarte said.

    This is Duarte’s first production with Studio Series and her first show in two years. Duarte said she was elated to get the part when she auditioned in January and has enjoyed the time spent with the cast and crew over the month of rehearsals and preparation.

    When asked what her favorite part about the production process was, Duarte immediately responded, “Connecting with the cast.”

    “It makes it so much easier and more comfortable when you’re trying new things and seeing how they’ll react to it,” she said.

    Myani Watson, a theatre sophomore, is also a newcomer to Studio Series and plays Hailstorm in the production.

    The play, as Watson described it, is rare in how it can be extremely realistic during some moments and somewhat abstract at others, making for an interesting approach to rehearsals. Watson said that for the first several days of production, the cast sat around a table reading and discussing the play and their characters.

    “A lot of work goes into it,” Watson said. “[There’s] a lot of figuring out who you think the character is, what their motivations are and also what you think the playwright was trying to say.”

    Watson’s biggest struggle with playing Hailstorm was delivering the character’s monologue. Among other facets, one unique element of “blu” is that each character has their own monologue — something uncommon in most plays.

    The memorable story, time shifts between present and past, abundance of monologues and much more give “blu” an emotional resonance with the audience.

    According to the “blu” web page, Grise — playwright and 2010 Yale Drama Series Award winner — will attend the opening performance on Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Harold Dixon Directing Studio in the UA Drama building. Discussions will be held after each show and are open to any audience members looking to chat with others about the play, its execution and its message.

    Tickets are $7. With the limited engagement of the play, those interested should buy their tickets as soon as possible. To purchase tickets and view a full list of performances, visit the School of Theater, Film and Television’s website.


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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