The Show Must Go On

Four Students Perform in the Fall Play, Duck Variations

Actors and Stagecrew pose in front of the set for Duck Variations

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Actors and Stagecrew pose in front of the set for Duck Variations

On September 8, auditions were held for “Duck Variations”, a play with just two characters, Emil and George. The elderly men are shown in 14 different variations, making conversation about ducks, friendship, and life. Junior Kymari Hart, sophomore Wren Dudney, freshman Amy O’Brien, and senior Hiba Elabbassi were the only four students to try out. 

In the original play, the two characters, Emil and George are elderly men. The play highlights the two men discussing ducks, but on a deeper level, the ups and downs of their own lives together. Depending on the director’s choice, the play can be performed as if the two men have just met, or as if they are old friends.

Dudney is one of the four students performing in “Duck Variations.” “The theme is kind of allegorical,” Dudney said. “The whole thing is about ducks, but in reality they’re talking about some more thematic things like love, death, and relationships, all under the guise of talking about ducks.”

With the original play’s inherently small cast and simple plot, many elements have been interpreted differently in performances by other groups and places who have performed “Duck Variations,” including changing the relationship between the men and tweaking the dialogue.

 As Parker’s cast consists of four young, female students, many creative liberties pertaining to the two characters have been made. “I play a character named Barbara,” Dudney said. This is not one of the typical characters, Emil or George, originally seen in “Duck Variations.” “She’s an older woman who crochets, she’s also a mallwalker. We got to design our characters ourselves because all of the characters in the play are male, and we are all female. I got to design her personality to what I wanted it to be like.”

Hart splits her onstage time between the two original “Duck Variations” characters, and has a total of seven scenes in the play. “There are only two roles,” Hart said, “but we made four, and we share the roles. Sometimes I’m Emil, and sometimes I’m George.”. 

With a cast of just four, and a play with an original cast of two, “Duck Variations” is a fitting choice for Parker’s fall play. The students decided to add two extra characters to the play. All four students split their time between different characters. 

“Since there’s such a limited number of people, we really got the chance to explore our character and be who we wanted to be,” Dudney said. “All the scenes are just two different or four different actors talking about life in the park. It was actually really fun to just have four people. The cast got all really close, and we all split up the characters nicely together.” 

Hart felt similarly about the small cast working together to make the best of the situation. “There is a very small cast and there are only four of us in the play,” Hart said. “One freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one senior. The play we’re doing usually has only two characters, so it’s nice we made four so there can be different people in each scene.” 

Aside from the four actors, the Fall Play is led by Upper School drama teacher John Hildreth, and is worked on by the stagecraft team led by art/shop/stage-set design teacher Nick Rupard. 

Junior Luca Lennon works as the Stage Manager for “Duck Variations.” “This basically means I manage every other stage person, so the lights and sound, and I also start the show on the stagecraft side of things,” Lennon said.

Stagecraft has also been working after school on “Duck Variations.” “For practice, we will usually start by preparing the stage for practice and going over the day,” Lennon said. “Then after the actors are ready, we will start running through the show as well as practicing certain parts of the play that might need some extra work.” 

Lennon works closely along with the four actors in the play. “With a small crew I actually find that it has been easier to prepare for the show,” Lennon said. “We have been able to create a close bond in our group. Also with a small play like this one there is not too much stress on individuals in the stagecraft program as there is less to worry about.”

  The students began work on September 13, rehearsing four times a week, and then increased rehearsal times to everyday with the start of October. They typically rehearse from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m, every weekday. The play will be performed at Parker in the auditorium on October 27, 28, and 29 at 7 p.m, and on Saturday, October 30, at 3p.m.