ICA Cristo Rey Performers Join Riordan for Perfect Storm
By Isabella Rivera-Gonzalez ’21
Perfect Storm was the Fall production for Riordan’s Theater program that ran from November 15-28. Every night was sold out, which created excitement amongst the members of the production. Perfect Storm was a production of four one-act plays. Along with the Artistic Producer, Ms. Valerie O’Riordan, the four Student Directors that put together Perfect Storm were Jonathan Torrea (JT) (Riordan ‘21), Eva Moody (ICA ‘20), Kaylee Yiakis (Mercy SF ‘20), and Daniel Chan-Artiga (Riordan ‘21).
The first one-act play was Sure Thing, originally written by David Ives. This one-act had only three people in it. JT ‘21 directed this one, and it was really wacky. The play’s synpopsis: “Sure Thing is a short comic play by David Ives featuring a chance meeting of two characters, Betty and Bill, whose conversation is continually reset by the use of a ringing bell, starting over when one of them responds negatively to the other.” Lissete Trinidad (Mercy SF ‘20) played the female lead named Betty, and she spoke on techniques she used while memorizing her lines: “A strategy or technique that I use to help me when I am memorizing is that I try to read my lines ten times, say them out loud ten times, and then write them out three times so I have that repetition in my mind. Another thing that helped with the rearranging and resetting lines is that I tried to treat each bell reset as a new scene or even a new play so that I wasn’t getting mixed up as easily.”
Director JT said, “Directing only three people made things a lot easier. I’m honestly kind of grateful I didn’t have such a big cast. Because I had such a small cast, it was much easier to manage people and I ended up getting a lot closer with the actors. Instead of a rehearsal, it felt like we were all hanging out even though we were working.”
The second play was Line, originally created by Israel Horovitz. It was the longest play in Perfect Storm and it had only five characters in it. Line could be described along these lines: “It is an absurdist drama about five people waiting in line for an event. Each of the characters uses their wiles in an attempt to be first in line, getting more and more vicious as the play continues.” Isaiah Clark (Riordan ‘21), who played Stephen said, “Memorizing lines kinda just came natural, I don’t really have a ‘technique.’ I’d really just practice it whenever I had free time around the house, like reciting them in the shower or something.”
ICA Cristo Rey senior and director of Line Eva Moody spoke about managing her extracurriculars and school while directing the play: “Directing LINE was a thrilling experience. The length of the one act posed a challenge but the mature themes it explores were really exciting to direct. While directing this one act I was also writing, practicing, and performing my senior speech as well as bringing the Kairos retreat back to ICA after its over-a-decade hiatus... If I were to do it all again the only thing I would dodifferently is organize my time and attention smarter.” Audiences responded to Line with uproarious laughter.
The third one-act was The 15-Minute Hamlet by Tom Stopper. It is described as follows: “15-Minute Hamlet is a 1976 comedic abridgement of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, written by Tom Stoppard. The play, an excerpt from Dogg's Hamlet, condenses the original Hamlet, including all the best-known scenes, into approximately 13 minutes of on-stage action.” Our 30-minute version, however, included the 15-minute Hamlet, the five-minute Hamlet, the one-minute Hamlet, and the ten-second Hamlet. The 15-minute Hamlet was the most serious, whereas the rest were more comical.
Jack Barnes (Riordan ‘21), who played King Claudius, said, “From day one, I was not satisfied with what character I got, but eventually had grown into it. The very last day, I'd say I had improved my character by learning to just empty my mind and flowing through with whatever came from my actions. Even though I still had that discontent of my role, I still think that the work that everyone had put into the show put them in their character's shoes.”
Will Haskell (Riordan ‘22), played Ophelia and spoke about switching gender roles in his character: “Playing Ophelia was a completely different experience than what I am used to. I am used to goofy characters with big personalities and not a care in the world. Ophelia is completely different. She has all of these terrible things happening in her life ultimately driving her crazy. This was a really interesting and fun experience that I think really helped me as an actor.”
According to the director, the play flipped the gender roles of Hamlet and Ophelia. Will said, “I didn’t really have to change the way I acted because it was a male version of the character, so other than changing the pronouns it wasn’t much different. I guess maybe I did have to change the tone or speed at which the lines were usually spoken to make them a bit more masculine... Overall it was a really fun experience and it helped me become a better, more rounded and diverse actor.”
Kaylee Yiakis (Mercy ‘20) directed the 30 minute one-act. When asked about the challenges of directing a group of her friends, she replied, “Directing a group friends was super fun but also difficult at times. Maintaining a ‘professional’ distance or attitude while leading is important, otherwise no work would get done. However, staying on track can be hard to do when you’re with friends. Otherwise I think it was really nice. Friendship adds ease to communication and understanding which allowed for a smoother process.”
Kaylee also spoke about managing extracurriculars and school: “When it comes to managing theater and school, it’s really important to keep your dates in order while leaving time for your own needs. I was participating in tennis along with clubs and programs while doing directing. So, during that time I essentially had no time after school and rarely on weekends that weren’t taken up by extracurriculars or school work. Planning ahead of time helped me to not be constantly overwhelmed. I also learned I hadto include time for myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have energy for activities and I would feel drained.” and she describes to us how it was managing her extracurriculars with school and directing a group of people she was already close with. This reporter feels that this one-act was definitely exhilarating to watch and act in.
Last, but certainly not least, an improv act was directed by Daniel Chan-Artiga (Riordan ‘21). This final act included the entire company of Perfect Storm. It consisted of many lightning sound effects, warm-ups for the actors and audience, and fun improv games that the audience was able and encouraged to participate in. According to The Hideout Theater, improv is “a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up in the moment.” Daniel said, “The hardest thing about doing improv is literally in the name. Throughout rehearsals another word came to my mind: practice. No matter how good someone was good at improv, practicing it over and over again made it the hardest and best aspect because every time it was brand new, and that was the beauty of this show.” At the end of every performance, the cast would stand and thank the audience while bowing with the hats they had worn in the improv act. They thanked the audience for coming and ended each night off with a Perfect Storm of applause.
The last person we interviewed was stage manager Amanda Neubarth (Mercy ‘20). The stage manager is the person in charge of the lighting, sound, and technology used in every show. When asked about how she felt leading everyone to opening night, Amanda said, “Since my first show at Riordan in 2017, I’ve watched our company flourish. The amount of growth that presents itself at the start of every new show, and throughout, really speaks for itself. Every single cast is different, but how I’ve felt about stage managing at Riordan hasn’t changed since I first started. With every new show comes a new sense of excitement, along with nervousness. It’s all just part of the process though: throughout workdays and tech week, the nervousness gradually fades and gets replaced with confidence. Confidence in the cast, crew and within myself. Confidence that the audience will love the show. Confidence that all of the hard work was worth it. There’s really no hope as a stage manager if you can’t be confident in those around you.”
As this reporter can attest, being in this production was really fun and at the same time chaotic. The cast and crew felt that there is truly a beauty in live theater, and to everyone who came to watch Perfect Storm, they were extremely grateful.