Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage” - winner of the 2009 Tony Award for “Best Play” - has energetically made its way to the Valparaiso University stage directed entirely by students. The play will be held in the University Theatre from April 28 - May 1.

This work centers around four characters - two married couples in their 40s - dealing with the aftermath of a fight between their children that leaves one of them with smashed teeth. Alan and Annette are the parents of the boy, who committed the violent act, where Michael and Veronica are the parents of the victim.

As the story continues, the characters begin to realize they might be the victims of their own problems. This work asks all kinds of questions, as well as entertains the audience for a solid 75 minutes. As the play ends, both couples completely devolve into acting like children themselves.

Carley Kolsch, a freshman theatre major, plays Annette - a prim and proper, yet also anxious woman, who is very aware of her privilege. Kolsch talked about why she wanted to be part of the cast.

“I auditioned for this play because of my love for theatre and because I am a theatre major,” Kolsch said.

She’s not the only one. The entire cast of “God of Carnage,” including the director and the four actors, are all theatre majors. The entire production is student-run; it was designed by students, directed and managed by students and will be performed by students. Ashleigh Happer, a senior theatre major and the director of the show, talked about the play.

“It’s a show from, by and to students,” Happer said. “All of your classmates’ ideas are up on that stage.”

In discussing her process in directing this show, she mentioned it was a collaborative effort, making the designs and all that you will see onstage a cohesive artistic idea.

Besides coming up with ideas for the set, props and other technical aspects of the show, the actors had some of their own work to do. Danny Ferenczi, a junior theatre major, spoke on how he prepared for the role of Michael. He plays an “average Joe” with a facade to keep up, which his own wife created.

“Before I even auditioned, I read the play and absolutely loved it,” Ferenczi said. “The characters are so complex, with all of the various conflicts that surface throughout the play.”

Ferenczi discussed the length of the play and how that affected rehearsal.

“Because it’s so short, we blocked the entire play within the first couple weeks,” Ferenczi said. “The repetition from running the show over and over again though helped with memorization.”

Both Kolsch and Ferenczi mentioned how the cast went through a characterization exercise they called “couples therapy.” The actors sat down and Happer asked rapid fire questions about each individual character. The actors would then come up with backstories including intimate details about their character, how the couples met and when they got married.

Kolsch recommends the play for anyone looking for entertainment.

“It’s got a little bit of everything, it’s funny, it makes you think, there’s a lot of physical comedy and the characters are very relatable,” Kolsch said.

Ferenczi spoke about the humor the play utilizes.

“People should come to see ‘God of Carnage’ because of all of the hilarity that ensues with the dark comedic undertones,” Ferenczi said. “You’ll surely find yourself laughing out loud at the peculiarities of each character.”

Contact Jilaine Heitkotter at torch@valpo.edu.

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