Beginning Friday night, Troutt Theater becomes more than just a stage.
The Department of Theatre and Dance will perform “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman as its season opener.
“Metamorphoses” is a vignette-style play that lays out the love lives of the various characters for the audience to see. Despite the many characters, they are all portrayed by an ensemble cast of only 11 actors.
“The actors are playing multiple characters in multiple stories,” said director Brent Maddox. “They’re constantly changing. They’re constantly morphing from one story into the next, one character into the next.”
The story of the play changes from character to character throughout 10 scenes – some may be finding love, others may be losing it. The scenes are independent of each other but manage to flow together thanks to the pools being the common factors.
The unique style of the play isn’t the only challenge the ensemble cast has, however. It has the physical challenge of working around two large pools of water that take up the majority of the stage in a technical feat that Belmont hasn’t seen before.
“Our director always says it’s the 12th member of our cast,” said junior Nyazia Martin, a member of the ensemble. “You can’t fight against the pool, you can’t fight against the water because it affects everything.”
The lower pool holds around 1,800 gallons of water. That amount is dwarfed by the 4,500 gallons of water the main pool holds. The pools are the focal points in each of the short stories in the performance. They echo the meaning of the performance’s title – change.
The water presents an added challenge to the actors – for the most part, they must ignore any affect the water has on them. They’re movements and reactions have to remain natural.
“What we weren’t expecting was the effect it has on our body temperature and just having to not appear cold,” said junior Morgan Condor, another member of the ensemble. “Especially if you have a scene where you go in the water and come right out. You’ve got to hold it together.”
The effects of the water don’t stay within the pool. Because of the constant movement, the water splashes onto the surrounding stage, making the floor slippery and hard to walk on.
The pools also create a challenge for the set designers to work around.
“I haven’t had so many changes in the set along the rehearsal process. Every time we come to rehearsal there’s a new element about it that they had to fix with the water,” said Condor.
The pools are not the only thing that sets “Metamorphoses” apart. The use of an ensemble cast instead of lead actors also creates a different atmosphere for the entire performance.
“You have to trust in every other person who’s on the stage with you to be there for you, literally and figuratively to catch you if you fall,” said Martin. “It’s a huge trust game. It’s fantastic that there’s no lead because everyone is the lead. Everyone’s supporting each other throughout the entire show.”
The cast was chosen based on who Maddox thought would be able to work well together and be able to be on equal ground.
“In the first two rehearsals that we had, we did nothing but ensemble work. We didn’t even get into the stories of the play,” said Maddox.
It’s that dedication that Maddox and the cast hopes will make the play come together in front of an audience.
“I know they’re still working on projection and sound cues and light cues, so I’m excited that the audience will be one of the first to see it as one complete presentation in all of its art form,” said junior Austin Williams, another ensemble member. “Everyone has just worked so hard on this. I’m so excited to see it just all come together.”
“Metamorphoses” opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Troutt Theater. Performances continue over the weekend on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The performances begin again Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $5 for faculty, alumni, students and seniors and free for Belmont students.
“I think it’s going to be a great show,” said Maddox. “It’s not something that’s done over and over again. I’m looking forward to the response the Belmont community is going to have toward it.”