Mar 222012
Authors: Emily Kribs

While most CSU students don’t usually think “opera” when considering what to do with their Friday night, “The Turn of the Screw,” written by Benjamin Britten and directed by Tiffany Blake, promises to be interesting, with the intrigue of a ghost story deliberately left ambiguous to the viewer.

“I want to give the audience the same experience I had in studying the story,” Blake said. “I’m presenting the piece as ambiguously as possible so that the audience can make their own assumptions.”

“The Turn of the Screw,” presented by the Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center with the CSU Sinfonia Orchestra, opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Griffin Concert Hall in the University Center for the Arts. Tickets are $20 for non-students, $10 for CSU students and $1 for youths 17 and younger.

The cryptic nature of the opera has provided a challenge for the students’ acting abilities, as well as their musical talent. Music major Mira Madorsky, one of the actresses who plays Flora, said, “It’s been very musically challenging. You can’t depend on the music to tell the story.”

Music major Anastasia Gray, one of the students who plays Miles, said, “There are a lot of scenes where (our characters) don’t say anything, so it was really a challenge as actors.”

She added, “It’s different from other operas because, in a lot of operas, you see a lot of overacting, but “The Turn of the Screw” is much subtler. It’s so ambiguous that you can’t overact.”

Publicity Coordinator for the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, Carrie Care, said, “We’re really excited. Twentieth-century opera is very different, and it’s really been a great challenge.”

In addition to those provided by the play’s enigmatic nature, challenges are found in the characters themselves.

Music major Alexandra Diessner, one of the Governess’s actors, said, “To be prepared for (my role), I had to understand the story from beginning to end and understand what characters contribute to the change of governess.”

Gray said, “(The kids) have very adult minds, and we needed to act that out and still act like children, and to portray different levels of maturity from scene to scene.”

“And different levels of sanity,” added Madorsky with a laugh. “Our characters have evolved so much as we’ve begun the rehearsal process. They really feel like a whole different animal now.”

Gray found additional challenge in playing the part of a boy.

“I played Peter Pan in high school,” he said, “but I still tried talking to guys about things like how they walk and how they move.”

Despite premiering in 1954 in Venice and the fact it’s based on Henry James’ novella published in 1898, the play is still believed to be both relevant and accessible to a modern audience.

“It’s most definitely still interesting and relevant today,” Madorsky said. “And it’s a ghost story, which I think transcends time periods.”

“It’s so unlike its setting (late 1800s),” added Gray. “Kids are still growing up and inevitably losing their innocence, which is a major theme in this play.”

According to Madorsky, the production is great for people willing to push their boundaries.

“It’s appealing to a mature audience, to people interested in the details who like to analyze things,” said Gray.

One of the narrators, music major Nate Alpers, added, “It’s good for an educated audience.”

Given that CSU is first and foremost a place of learning, such an audience ought to be close at hand.

Collegian writer Emily Kribs can be reached at

What: A supernatural spectacle
Where: Griffin Concert Hall, University Center for the Arts
When: Tonight, March 30 and 31, 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee on March 25 at 2 p.m.
Cost: $20 for non-students, $10 for CSU students and $1 for youths 17 and younger

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