People in sophisticated clothing appear ghost-like as they enter the stage until they transform into apes. Thus begins the surreal world of the CSU Theaterâ€™s production of â€œThe Kafka Project,â€ directed by Walt Jones and company.
The play is a compilation of short stories by Franz Kafka. In one section, one of the actresses gives birth to the rest of the cast who then transform into a community of mice. In another, an oddity called â€œThe Hunger Artistâ€ describes his life as a starving man used for the entertainment of others.
â€œIâ€™ve loved that weâ€™ve created this weird world,â€ said junior theater major Willa Bograd. â€œWe get to play a lot of different roles in one piece, and itâ€™s a lot more surreal and artistic.â€
Bograd plays, among other characters, the singing drama queen Josephine in â€œThe Mouse Folkâ€.
The process for â€œThe Kafka Projectâ€ began without a script, but a lot of creativity. The actors used improvisational techniques in the first few weeks of rehearsal to make their characters their own as well as incorporating their own ideas to the show as a whole, according to Bograd.
â€œThe actors feel like they have a collective ownership of this piece, and they do get credit in the program,â€ said Jones.
Jones and the cast described the sense of trust and community they feel on and off the stage.
â€œI find actors to be pretty game when theyâ€™re given a challenge. Thatâ€™s what I love about actors,â€ said Jones. â€œThe bigger the challenge the more it piques their appetite.â€
Michael Toland, a junior theater major, along with Kat Springer, a senior theater major, plays Gregor Samsa, who awakens one morning to discover he has turned into a giant insect.
Toland, Springer and many of the other actors use the odd surroundings on stage to their advantage by climbing, jumping and swinging around the theater without the use of harnesses or wires.
â€œHanging upside down hurts a lot, but itâ€™s worth it because it looks cool. As long as it looks cool and adds to the play, Iâ€™ll do anything,â€ Toland said.
In February of 2012, CSU will host The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. â€œThe Kafka Projectâ€ will be shown as a part of the festival.
Staff writer Lianna Salva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What: CSU Theater presents â€œThe Kafka Projectâ€
When: Dec. 1 â€“ 4, 8 â€“ 10, Jan. 31 â€“ Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m.
Where: University Center for the Arts, University Theater
Cost: $8 for students, $18 for the public