“We Survive on Caffeine, Chocolate, & Twizzlers.” A Behind-the-Scenes Take on Saint Mary’s Student Play “Pentecost”

Raquel here, I’m currently the sleep-deprived Stage Manager for the Saint Mary’s University Theatre Department’s fall drama/thriller Pentecost.

We are currently getting ready to open in almost a week, which means tech week is here. This is a week where designers, actors, and backstage technicians walk into the Page Theatre and are forever lost; cut off from all family and friends. For sustenance, we survive on caffeine, chocolate, and Twizzlers. Our sanity goes down the drain and we somehow manage to solve problems just in the nick of time. Literally.

Written by England’s leading playwright, David Edgar, Pentecost tells the story of Gabriella Pecs, an art curator who finds what she thinks is the greatest, history-changing fresco in a small abandoned church in the middle of nowhere. She recruits a celebrated English art historian to assist in claiming what could be a magnificent find. Solving the mystery of the fresco isn’t the only barrier these two must conquer.

While everything in the above description is true, it doesn’t really cover the whole story. There’s some pretty heavy stuff here: art, politics, religion, and ethnic diversity all set in an unnamed post-war, post-communist Eastern European society…okay it’s in an imaginary country, but you get the idea. Adult language and adult themes for an adult audience.

Yes, a fresco is the center of a show and there’s one side who thinks it should be in a museum, there’s another who thinks it should stay in a ratty ‘ol church and there’s one guy who thinks it should get “fried off the wall” (spoiler alert: it does).

But the play’s title is simply a metaphor for everything that goes on. English is not the only language spoken. We’re talking about more than five exotic languages (some of which are dead ones too) that are included in this play. This leaves me, the stage manager, having to know all of them…it’s all for the benefit of the show…at least that’s what I tell myself. It’s not all so serious though as the language barrier will leave you chuckling at some of the miscommunication…think of charades, but with guns.

Hopefully you’re somewhat intrigued now and want to see the show. I’ve even included a time-lapse video above of the set load-in to show you all the hard-work we have been up to on this journey. I invite you to see the work of every sleep-deprived actor, technician, and manager. The final product will be worth your time, it has definitely been worth ours.

Shows are happening November 6th thru 8th at 7:30pm, with a matinee performance on the 9th at 3:00pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors & students and can be purchased in person at the Saint Mary’s Performance Center Box Office, online at PageTheatre.org, or over the phone at (507) 457-1715.

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