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Oct. 17, 2001
OSWEGO -- Seeing people transform a written work into a living, breathing performance is something that really thrills Jennifer Caruana, director of SUNY Oswego's student honors production "The House of Yes." The play will open Nov. 14.
"There's something very exciting about putting people on the stage, watching them transform the play into something living and seeing it exceed your expectations," said Caruana, a SUNY Oswego senior with a dual major in English and theatre. "That's the most important part of directing -- seeing what everyone brings to it."
"The House of Yes" will be staged at 8 p.m. Nov. 14 to 18 in the lab theatre in Tyler Hall. "I really thought that the play was good for the honors slot," Caruana said. "I thought it was a really fitting play for the audience that would be seeing it. And I wanted to do a black comedy."
Caruana, who said she has wanted to direct since her freshman year, submitted the play for consideration for this year's student-led production. In the spring, a faculty panel reviewed the plays submitted and chose Caruana's proposal in April.
"I started right away," Caruana recalled. "The designers for the show are student designers, also chosen through a selection process. We started working together over the summer."
The student set designer is Becky Sagen, whose credits include serving as scenic designer for "The Grapes of Wrath." Lighting director Sara Lyon also played this behind-the-scenes role for last year's honor production, "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress."
"This is educational theatre at its finest for everyone involved -- the designers, the director and the performers," Caruana said. "I just had my cast do its first reading, and they really enjoyed it."
The cast also includes Kevin Keleher, Joelle Myszka and Brooke Stone. Having a troupe of "fresh faces" who haven't yet played many lead roles is exciting, Caruana said. "I'm glad to have a cast of students who will be able to use this play to further their experience in theatre."
"The House of Yes" opens with Marty Pascal (Matt DeHond) bringing his fiancee Lesly (Desiree Fors) home to meet his family during Thanksgiving. Although the play takes place in 1983, Marty deals with a family that is stuck in 1963 -- the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
"It's a comedic play, but it's a rich play in many ways," Caruana said of the script, written by Wendy MacLeod and used as the basis for the 1997 movie of the same name. "There are a lot of metaphors in it specific to the American life. It's not just a comedy."
The rehearsal process, slated to begin Oct. 23, is only three weeks, including tech week -- around half the time scheduled for most productions. Caruana said the fact that there is a small cast and a relatively short play -- around 90 minutes, with no intermission -- work in her favor.
"I will be well prepared," she said. "I have been doing something with it every night to get ready, such as blocking or working on character development. I'll have my end of it secure by the time we start."
Audiences should expect a quick-moving play, the director said. "There isn't a single monologue in it," she said. "It's all ensemble oriented."
Caruana, who is a graduate of Altmar-Parish-Williamstown High School, served as an assistant director for a couple of shows and dramaturge for SUNY Oswego's award-winning production of Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors" in 1999. She has appeared on stage in roles including Jocasta in the SUNY Oswego production "Oedipus en Havana."
She also helped put together "A Work in Progress," an event featuring five student plays that benefited the Oswego Women's Shelter. She wrote and directed one of those pieces, "Elevator."
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