Photo courtesy of Michael Salerno

The University of Rhode Island’s theater department will debut their production “Women and War,” tonight to open the fall 2018 season.

“Women and War” consists of two single act Greek plays adapted by Ellen Mclaughlin. “Lysistrata” is a comedy which discusses women who want to obtain peace during the Peloponnesian War. Their goal throughout the play is to stop their husbands from fighting, which results in a comedic plan to reach their objective. The show goes from comedy to tragedy by the actors then performing, “Trojan Women.” This tragedy illustrates the women of Troy after losing the war, and the effect of this heartbreaking event on them.

The overall goal that the cast and Director Kira Hawkridge are trying to reach, is to portray the strength of women and make it known that women aren’t objects. The main message is, women are worth something and they can make a difference in the world. This will allow the audience to open up their minds to how women are just as capable of doing things as men are.

The actors overwhelmingly stated that they enjoyed working together to put on this performance. In order to put the two plays together, Hawkridge and the cast worked on their movements and how each character interacts with one another. Improvisation was the main aspect that they worked on during their rehearsals since Hawkridge wanted them to bring their own interpretations to the plays. Actors stated that they depended on each other, due to the fact that the actors lead the rehearsals, to make the performance original.

“Our director, Kira, leads us in improvisations and we talk about our characters movements and how they interact with each other,” Emily Turtle, an actress in the performance, said. “It leads into a very ensemble type of rehearsal because we depend on each other to get the workout. She lets us lead and she is kind of just our guide throughout the process.”

After putting so much work into the show, the cast is most excited to have an audience during the opening weekend’s performances. They want their audience to be able to have a good time and laugh during the performance of “Lysistrata,” but also be able to explore their emotions while viewing the tragedy of “Trojan Women.” The cast is anxious to see how the audience reacts to the different genres of the plays and how it makes them feel.

“I think I am most excited about having an audience because the level of audience interaction we built into the show,” Emily Carter, an actress in the performance, said. “Especially in ‘Lysistrata’ and then our pre-show and intermission, where we built in moments where we joke with the audience, we talk directly to them, we dance with them…I am very excited to add that final layer to the show.”

This production differs from many of the other plays and musicals that the actors have been a part of. The biggest difference is the amount of ensemble work the cast did. Instead of separately working on their parts, the actors worked together to create more of a group aspect and layered the plays to show their own understanding. An overwhelming response from the actors was also the fact that this was their first time working with devised theatre.

“This is my first work of devised theatre, in which we as an ensemble, meaning everyone who is cast, work with the director as a guide to create the movements and blocking for the show,” Josh Raymo, an actor in the performance, said.

The cast and Hawkridge cannot wait to show their audiences how they interpret the plays and interact with them, in order to see their views on them. The opening performance of “Women and War” will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center’s J Studio. The show will continue to run through Oct. 21. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online through the URI theater department’s website.