Student-driven production 'Honor and the River' starting to flow

rehearsal imageA student-led cast and crew have waded deep into preparations for “Honor and the River,” the annual SUNY Oswego honors production opening Nov. 19.

Director Kevin Hollenbeck, a senior double major in theatre and cinema and screen studies from Stockbridge, never even would have thought of directing a theatre production before attending Oswego. “I was really interested in film so I came here to focus on directing and screenwriting and ended up being drawn into theatre,” he said.

“Honor and the River” having a small cast and minimalist set in the Tyler Hall lab theatre both simplify matters and make for more of a challenge. With this presentation, lighting, sound and flexible use of scenery become more important in enhancing and conveying the character-driven play.

The four-person cast consists of prep-school teenagers Eliot (Knate Roy) and Honor (Keegan Bushey), and their respective widowed parents Wawa (Ariel Marcus) and Alcestis (Ryan Santiago).

“Eliot and Honor are paired together as part of a school rowing requirement,” Hollenbeck said. “Both their parents have lost significant others and have started seeing each other. They don’t have anyone else to turn to, so they learn a lot about themselves through the other character.”

Unlike the lead characters, Hollenbeck has plenty of help on and off stage during the short production window. The director and designers were selected in the spring semester through an interview process and remained in contact during the summer, sharing ideas.

The student crew includes sound designer Bill Pastella, lighting director Desiree Kavanaugh and costume designer Elias Gutierrez. Johan Godwaldt of the theatre faculty stepped in as set designer.

The cast started text rehearsals to get the script down before the theatre department’s previous production, “The Torch Bearers,” even opened. “The text is tricky,” Hollenbeck explained. “You have overlapping dialogue, line cues and other things to focus on. I really wanted to work on the text as soon as possible.”

The play, written by New York City playwright Anton Dudley, will unfold in more than 30 scenes, many of them short. “There are no given scenes in the story,” the director said. “I had to create and divide the scenes myself.”

Hollenbeck provides additional behind-the-scenes insights through the Oswego student blog project at

“Honor and the River” will preview at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, with all seats $5.

The production will have 8 p.m. curtains Nov. 19 to 22, wrapping with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee Nov. 23. Tickets for the regular run cost $12 ($10 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). The play is suggested for those 16 years of age or older.

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

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PHOTO CAPTION: ‘Honor’ work—SUNY Oswego’s annual student honors production, “Honor and the River,” will open Nov. 19 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre. Director
Kevin Hollenbeck (right) gives direction to Knate Roy (playing Eliot) while assistant stage manager Gina Mazzoli and stage manager Charlie Smith look on in back.

CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097,

(Posted: Oct 22, 2008)

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