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By Eric Weld   Date: 12/3/13 Bookmark and Share

Let Them Eat Rolls!

Smith Theatre Teams with Dining Services for Authentic Props

 

Scenes from Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, on stage December 4-7, 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m., Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center (Wednesday, Dec. 4, is Dollar Night).
 
  Diggers sharing rolls with the audience.
 
  Amidst the trees of Buckinghamshire.

In theater, props—objects, often fake, used by actors to add authenticity to a scene—are an essential ingredient in illustrating a story on stage.

But sometimes you just need the real thing—such as in the upcoming Smith theatre production of Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer, associate professor of theatre.

In this case, fake dinner rolls just wouldn’t do. Only real, baked dinner rolls—some 50 of them for each performance, plus another 20 for dress rehearsals—would help bring off the level of authenticity required in the play’s themes.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, written in 1976 by renowned English playwright Caryl Churchill, modernizes historic events that erupted into civil war in England in the 1640s, including a dramatization of the Putney Debates of 1647, in which the radical Levellers, who had usurped the king, argue for liberty and universal suffrage while the military establishment stands on property and ownership as a basis for voting rights.

Swirling about the unrest in 1640s England were several idealistic groups—like the Levellers—each putting forth its own vision of utopia. One such group, a Protestant agrarian movement known as the Diggers, began planting on public land and inviting others to join them, feeding all who came, explains Kramer, who has taught Light Shining in Buckinghamshire to Smith students.

In that spirit, the Smith cast will literally share fresh rolls, baked by dining services, with the audience during the play.

“This act of sharing is vital in the play,” says Kramer, “and by providing these rolls, dining services is helping us connect the ensemble and the audience in that act of sharing.”

Aside from the shared culinary repast, the subject matter in Light Shining in Buckinghamshire is no light fare.

While its themes are built around 17th-century history, the play speaks directly to the political realities and power struggles of today.

“The play delves into the desire to question established rules and expectations,” describes Kramer, “to seek new roles for women and men, to fashion a new society.”

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire explores the stubborn debate that seems to have no end in human evolution—between those who strive to improve human society, and those who wish to keep things just as they are.

For such debate, fake rolls would simply not suffice.

Tickets for Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (available online or by calling 413-585-ARTS or 585-3220) are $8, general; $5 for non-Smith students and seniors; and $3 for Smith students with ID. Opening night, Wednesday, Dec. 4, is Dollar Night—all tickets are just $1.

 

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