Student production of 'Dora' offers educational opportunities

costume fittingThis year’s Oswego student honors production, “Dora: A Case of Hysteria,” offers an opportunity for the cast and crew to learn while working on stage or behind the scenes.

Just the outfits worn by the title character, played by Allison Kleber, required the work of many people from production preparation to the show’s run from Nov. 15 to 19 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre.

Since it is a fairly short play and Dora is in most scenes, the costume changes will have to be quick, Kleber explained.

“Once we get the costumes done, we’re going to have special dress rehearsals with them,” said Kleber, a junior theatre major from Saratoga Springs. “I even have a two-person costume crew of Alaina Parness and Nicole Arbes helping me change.”

To make it possible to change in mere seconds, the crew will employ a secret weapon: magnets to quickly open, close and hold the costumes, said Abby Jenkins, the assistant costume shop supervisor.

“Using magnets is a something new for this show,” said Jenkins, a sophomore theatre major from Canastota. Since it is a novel experience, Jenkins will keep notes on how it works for possible submission to a United States Institute for Theatre Technology conference.

Having eight main dresses for one character, including vests, wraps, muffs and scarves, provides a real challenge for a costume shop, especially with a short run for “Dora” coming on the heels of “Antigone,” Jenkins noted.

A principal project for Jenkins has been creating an ornate waistcoat dress. “We didn’t have a pattern for it, so we had to take an existing pattern and adjust it to meet our needs,” she said.

For Kleber, one challenge involves playing a real person in Dora, who often spars with Sigmund Freud in the dramatization of a famous case study. Moreover, she also plays a Dora who undergoes many changes.

“Throughout the play, Dora ages from about age 8 to age 20,” Kleber said. “It’s quite a journey. The playwright has written her as very playful, and she has a certain defiance about her. That part is fun. She’s very entertaining.”

The decision by student director Trevor Franklin to stage the production in the round with a sparse set puts a greater focus on the dialogue and interactions among the small cast. While another challenge, Kleber enjoys it and finds it educational.

As opposed to a mainstage production, the intimate setting makes the acting style “more about being honest, acting real,” Kleber said. “It’s a different kind of acting when you’re sometimes only five feet away from the audience. It’s really a great experience.”

The production will have 8 p.m. curtains through Sunday, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets cost $12 ($10 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students).

For information or reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or

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PHOTO CAPTION: Right fit—Sophomore theatre major Abby Jenkins (right), the assistant costume shop supervisor, works on a fitting with junior theatre major Allison Kleber, who plays the title role in this year’s student honors production, “Dora: A Case of Hysteria.”

CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097

(Posted: Nov 01, 2006)