Chamber music: an absurdist play

Chamber Music, the 1962 absurdist play by Arthur Kopit, was presented by the California Lutheran University Theatre Department. Directed by Senior Emily Faye Hare, the play portrays an insane asylum inhabited by women who believe they are famous women in history.

Cal Lutheran student Brooke Sikkema practices strangling Theresa Wegher-Thompson playing the role of Amelia Earhart in Chamber Music. Photo by Annika Stenfjord - Photo Editor
Cal Lutheran student Brooke Sikkema practices strangling Theresa Wegher-Thompson playing the role of Amelia Earhart in Chamber Music.
Photo by Annika Stenfjord – Photo Editor

Some of the characters included Amelia Earhart played by Theresa Wegher-Thompson, Constanze Mozart played by Noor Baghai, Osa Johnson played by Karli Fisher, Gertrude Stein played by Christine Dauzat, Pearl White played by Brooke Sikkema, Queen Isabella I of Spain played by Allie Leslie, Joan of Arc played by Danika Elvine and Susan B. Anthony played by Leah Dalrymple. The cast consisted of a mainly female ensemble with two male actors, Michael Berquist and Will Haddock, playing the roles of the doctors at the asylum.

In the original script, the play takes place in 1938, a year after Earhart’s plane crash. Hare deviated from the original script by adding a twist in the ending in which everything occurred inside Earhart’s mind as her plane was crashing.

“I read the play a lot of times over the summer and I was reading it once and I thought I’m going to read this more existential this time. It’s absurdist already. What can I do to make it more absurd? I added the twist that the entire thing is in Amelia Earhart’s head. The end is her going into the light to death” Hare said.

Hare was instantly attracted to presenting Chamber Music at Cal Lutheran for several reasons: the mostly female cast, the amusing script and the witty remarks revolving the characters’ history hidden throughout the show. Hare said she enjoys playing with the actors and their skills more than the pre-planning aspect.

“I knew what I wanted for the ending image at the beginning, so I brought a bare bones script, but then my actors brought things to the table that I didn’t expect. It surpassed the image that I had in my head,” Hare said.

Some of Hare’s experience in theatre comes from being an assistant director with the Young Artist Ensemble community theatre and the YA4Ever. She was the assistant director for three of their shows within the last three years.

Dalrymple, a junior transfer student from Moorpark College interested in exploring Cal Lutheran’s Theatre Department played Anthony, whose character was a leader among the women.
“Susan’s a leader but she also has these weirdo desires, like an evil Susan B. Anthony,” Dalrymple said. “Usually I am like a diva, I sort of used that for the character but other than that it was very different from what I usually do.”

Elvine’s character was more eccentric than the rest. “She is the craziest of the play. She thought she heard voices. I guess I’m the nuttiest of the bunch,” Elvine said.

Elvine is a theatre major with prior experience from school and community theatre. “It’s really fun and something I’m really passionate about,” Elvine said.

Freshman Valerie Krepel, who attended the show said she thought  the play was not only entertaining but also thought-provoking, “I would say that it was very fascinating albeit very weird. It seemed really trivial at first, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that it was actually very deep,” Krepel said.

“It was a very unique interpretation of women in history. It left the audience with a lot to ponder,” attendee, freshman Emily Gillmore said.

America Rojas
Staff Writer
Published October 14th, 2015