The student-written comedy THE PARNASSUS PLAYERS opens this week. We spoke to the show's writer, SEÁN O'NEILL, about what audiences can expect from this Elizabethan-themed show.
How do you want an audience to react to The Parnassus Players?
Basically, we're aiming for nothing less than hysterical laughter, gasps, oos, ahs, and any and all visceral noises and irresistible reactions from audiences. The Parnassus Players is a high-energy, character driven romp, but we also want to encourage audiences to celebrate their own role in the live event through the give-and-take between spectator and performer, ignited by the energy of the comedy, the ingenuity of the setting, and the charm of the characters. Ultimately, we want audiences to leave with a deepened enthusiasm for theatre, a sympathy for underemployed Elizabethans, and a full set of laughter-sore ribs.
The show is set in Elizabethan England: what are you planning to do to bring this period to life on-stage?
For us, costume is something we're incredibly excited about as something which brings the setting and characters of the play to vivid realisation. Getting dressed up as something new is an almost childish pleasure many actors truly relish, and parts of the play place particular focus on the changes that can occur when actors put on their costumes. Through this element of visual design, we hope to convey the strange blend of modern and Elizabethan which characterises the London of the play, mixing corsets and jeans, doublets and chequered shirts to craft both character and setting in instantly recognisable ways.
Aside from costume, we use blank verse and an altered acting style to convey when characters are complying with an historical mode of performance, as opposed to the more modern language used throughout the play. This reinforces the blended culture of the world, while also bringing levels of artificiality into play which help provoke an audiences' comfortable separation of 'real' and 'not real'.