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‘Sense and Sensibility’ opens in Black Box Theater

The Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance opened its latest production, a retelling of Jane Austen’s classic “Sense and Sensibility” on Feb. 9.

“For me, it’s about matters of the heart, specifically love and romance and heartbreak,” said Brent Maddox, director of the show. “What do you do when you are faced with a choice? When we look at these two sisters, who are the foci of our piece, we look at how they deal with these situations of romance and love and how those things affect their choices.”

This particular retelling of “Sense and Sensibility” was written by playwright Kate Hamill and is a wonderfully fast-paced, ensemble-based piece of theatre.

The actors transition seamlessly between roles, playing a love interest one minute and a horse or dog just minutes later.

EmElise Knapp portrays the sensible Elinor Dashwood. Knapp is fond of this production because of its emphasis on movement. Actors rarely stand still, and every moment has been intentionally choreographed.

“Movement theatre is my passion,” said Knapp. “It is highly collaborative, and it allows for a lot of creative energy in the room. It tends to change and adapt, so nothing is concrete.”

While Knapp listed the artistic benefits of movement-based theatre, Maddox focused on the practical.

“We have 45 scenes to get through. It has to move at a lightning pace, so we went with casters on all the furniture, as in the original production, so that we could transition from one scene to the next as fast as we possibly could,” said Maddox.

As “Sense and Sensibility” moves at near-blistering speed, it is sometimes difficult to tell when one scene ends and another begins. However, to Joseph Mobley, the actor portraying Edward Ferrars, one moment stands out.

“My favorite scene is also the playwright’s favorite scene,” said Mobley. “It’s a really great character moment for both of the characters and for their relationship, because they are both so sensible, but you know exactly how hard and sad it is for both of them.”

“It is both a hopeless moment and a hopeful moment.”

“Sense and Sensibility” is now open at Belmont’s Black Box Theater and will close Sunday. The show will reopen on Valentine’s Day this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.. All shows count for convocation credit and are free for students.

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This article written by Liz Gresser. Photo courtesy of Rick Malkin Photography. 

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