Smoke danced between the blue and purple lights as Colorado College students and family filed into the dimly lit Cornerstone Arts Center on parents’ weekend. The seats were full, heads bobbing and whispering to each other. Then, the scene was set, and the music began. The CC Theatre and Dance Department opened the first scene of “DNA,” a play by British playwright Dennis Kelly.
“DNA” follows a group of restless teenagers as they grapple with the disappearance and possible death of their friend Adam, who was last seen teetering on the edge of a grille over a disused shaft while these same teenagers jokingly threw stones at him. This group of friends must decide whether or not to cover up the murder, and if so, how to orchestrate the coverup without getting caught. Will guilt and madness break the group apart? How far are they willing to go?
“DNA” was the first of two shows that the Theatre Department will put on first semester. The production and rehearsal for this short play began halfway through Block 1 and took a little over a month to complete. According to Lili Whittier ’21, the play relied on quick, witty dialogue between characters at once as an instrumental piece in moving the plot along.
“I loved watching the entire production evolve piece by piece. The way that you conceive of space and of the piece as a whole changes when you start adding technical aspects,” she said. “Instead of just having ideas of these characters floating around in your head, you can actually place them all in a confined area and feel how they interact and how they move in their clothes.” “The set was phenomenal, and the lighting was beautiful,” Molly Lovett ’21 said. “The technical elements worked seamlessly into the plot, and stage pictures were on point.”.
Though the technical aspects were beautiful, the writing was questionable at times. Lovett mentioned that the “writing didn’t quite do it for [her].” Whittier similarly felt that “dialogue was a little rocky and didn’t quite make sense” due to the rhythmic, quick dialogue patterns. While I understood that the script intended to convey the startled and confused teenagers’ minds, the dialogue sounded repetitive and unnatural. The quick dialogue among nine or so actors facing different directions sometimes failed to project into the audience. Despite the arena-style stage surrounded by the audience on grille sides, the actors’ voices were sometimes lost. Still, “DNA” proved to be thought-provoking.
“It’s terrifying to see how far a group of kids will go to avoid accountability and how compelled they are to be violent. Creepy, creepy, creepy!” Lovett said.
The production came together due to the collaboration of set designers, costume designers, soundscape engineers, director, stage managers, actors and so many more. “DNA” was directed by Marie Davis Green, the set was built almost entirely by students under the direction of Paul Martin, the theatre department’s technical director, and the entire soundscape of the show was created by Max Sarkowsky ’20, a student designer.
Whittier sought to especially compliment Darryl Filmore ’20, the student stage manager. “Having to manage all eleven of us actors in a room must have been a labor of love,” Whittier said. “She was always on top of her stuff and ready to help out. She was absolutely instrumental in making this show what it was.”
If you are at all interested in participating in a theatre department production, there are many different ways to get involved on stage and behind the scenes. The next production will take place during Block 4.