Are You Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

By Morgan Lehofer

Familial tensions are universal, but what do you get when you mix an unhealthy relationship with lots and lots of alcohol, a career threat, adultery, and a gun? The answer: Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

The play is a dark comedy that tells the story of George and Martha, a middle-aged couple who release their frustrations by constantly going at each other’s throats. George works for Martha’s father as a professor at a university, but Martha resents and mocks her husband for never rising above the position of associate professor. The play opens with one of their usual episodes, and Martha reveals that she has invited a younger couple, George’s co-worker Nick and his wife Honey, over for drinks. Nick is young and attractive; he will clearly rise through the ranks at the university with ease. The adults begin a night of George and Martha’s “games,” and the tension rises along with the couples’ blood alcohol levels.

Graphic by Eli Brenna courtesy of Stage Troupe.
Graphic by Eli Brenna courtesy of Stage Troupe.

One of the challenges of putting on a show like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is the cast size; the show only calls for four actors. Stage Troupe co-directors Shoshana Koff and Daniel Ehrenpreis quickly found the good in working with such a small group.

“The biggest potential drawback with a small cast is that everyone needs to be 110% invested all the time,” said Koff. “Luckily we don’t have that problem. It allows us to get in depth with the characters and work on them.”

And work on them they did. The directors explained that breaking down the complex characters was no simple task. To attack this challenge, Koff and Ehrenpreis hosted “Woolf Talks” every weekend over the course of rehearsal to discuss the characters with their actors.

“We spend one to two hours every weekend and just sit down and talk about parts of the script,” said Ehrenpreis.

“The actors come in with different amounts of knowledge and perspective, which added to the cohesiveness of the show,” Koff added. The “Woolf Talks” helped the actors to find the motivations behind the characters’ actions, and it shows.

Despite the play’s difficulties, the cast and crew were able to break through these and create something truly worth watching– an incredible feat for just a seven-week rehearsal period. With just a few more days of tech week in front of them, the directors can soon sit back and watch their vision unfold.

“The takeaway message that we want the audience to really feel is that everyone has a façade that they use,” Ehrenpreis explained. “Even if you’re harboring some sort of persona that you don’t want to share with the public, it will come through in some way.”

Stage Troupe’s production features Kyle Mitchell as George, Emily Prescott as Martha, Kyle Tague as Nick and Isabella Walpole as Honey. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf opens this Thursday October 30th at the Student Theater at Agganis and runs through Saturday, November 1st. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased online at Buy your tickets today and find out: are you afraid of Virginia Woolf?


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