GVSU theater presents Helen for spring production

GVL / Courtesy - Diana Rayor

GVL / Courtesy – Diana Rayor Antigone

Carmen Smith

Grand Valley State University encourages all students who are interested in acting and theater stage production to mark their calendars for the upcoming auditions for this year’s spring play, Euripides’ “Helen.”

Auditions will be held Tuesday, Jan. 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, Room 1103, on the Allendale Campus and Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, Room 1525.

The production features a unique twist on the classic tale of “Helen of Troy,” by presenting an alternate story of the Trojan War.

The play begins by establishing a plot set in post war years with main character Helen never fleeing to Troy. After the gods intervene, Helen is taken to Egypt and a phantom Helen remains in Troy. The classic story of “Helen of Troy” includes a 10-year war fought over Helen, but in the play, the war is fought over nothing.

Unlike many Greek tragedies, Euripides’ “Helen” contains little death and destruction and more humor and philosophical questionings. It contains many modern parallels and presents the themes of the perception, beauty, rationale for war, reality and trust.

“Helen will offer something in that it’s a Greek tragedy that’s funny and not full of death, but full of really interesting questions about appearance and reality, and acting without full information,” said Diane Rayor, a GVSU Classics professor. “I think it’ll be a good combination of something that’ll make you think but something that’s also funny and enjoyable to watch, and also has a story that people know.”

This production of “Helen” will be directed by Karen Libman, along with a talented team of faculty collaborators.

Rayor translated “Helen” into a new stage script that she will continue to tweak when the cast is formed and rehearsals begin. After the production, Rayor plans to have the script published under the Cambridge University Press.

Nayda Collazo-Llorens, the current Padnos Distinguished Artist at GVSU, is a visual artist who will be creating the projections used within the production. Along with Rayor and Collazo-Llorens, Pablo Mahave-Vegila, the director of early music ensemble, is going to be doing the music direction and bringing live music to the production.

“One of the greatest things about theater is the collaborative nature of theater; you can’t really do anything by yourself in the theater world, that’s just now how it happens,” Libman said. “So it’s really exciting to be having all of these other areas from Grand Valley involved.”

All upcoming auditions will be a “cold read,” so students do not need to have anything prepared prior to try-outs. Participants will also be split up into small groups and assigned small scenes from the script called sides.To sign up for audition slots, all interested students can visit the box office in the Performing Arts Center or attend one of the audition days.

Students of all majors, ages and races are welcome and the directors and faculty collaborators encourage everyone interested to give it a shot.

Callbacks will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Kirkhof Center on the Allendale Campus.

Libman encourages students to come in with a goal of trying their best, not getting the part.

“Try to learn from the people around you, take risks, be willing to try something goofy if you’re asked to or even if you’re not, and be aware that we’re interested in seeing a wide variety of people on the stage,” she said. “We don’t want it to just be the same old people all the time, we want it to reflect Grand Valley communities.”