“Puss in Boots,” a staged reading put on in the Pierson-Davenport Theater Thursday night, aimed to give their audience a “meta-theatrical” experience through Ludwig Tieck’s adaptation of the popular folktale. With minimal costumes and props, a sparse set comprised of a single lamp and scripts in hand, the production presented a modern experiment into the age-old tradition of a “play within a play.” WEEKEND sat down with actors Oliva Scicolone ’14 (Hinze and Gottlieb, aka Puss), Eden Ohayon ’14 (Schlosser et al.), Connor Lounsbury ’14 (The Playwright et al.), Jordan Ascher ’14 (Bötticher et al.) and producer Ben Green ’14 to discuss the creative process of preparing the show.
Q. What exactly is a staged reading?
Olivia. It’s really what it sounds like: We all have scripts in hand, and we all have very limited blocking and staging. We are limited to what the play is really about. It’s a meta-theatrical experience in that the show is aware of itself as being a play.
Jordan. The idea of the play within a play — you see it a lot. For some reason, plays are really preoccupied with exploring that aspect of theater.
Eden. And what’s really great about the play is that it’s funny on its own, without any staging.
Q. What challenges are present in working on a staged reading as opposed to an ordinary play?
Jordan. In almost all aspects, it’s easier.
Eden. But it’s also frustrating for the actor because you don’t get the support of things like props, costumes.
Ben. The audience is going in with the knowledge that this is just a taste of what the full production would be, and it is a very different experience for them because they see how the art of the play is built from the ground up, the bare bones of it, instead of just the final product.
Q. How did you guys get together to create this project?
Jordan. We are actually the beginnings of a group called “Moonshine and Lion,” in reference to Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” We are trying to be a theatre troupe that does stage readings of this variety once or twice a semester.
Olivia. We had read the play in last year’s Theater 120 course: Survey of Theatre and Drama, and for some reason, we all found it really compelling. A group of us got together and just read the play in our common room, and in this process, we just fell in love with it.
Jordan. I think it’s really pertinent to today’s theatrical climate, an environment in which there’s been so much experimentation. We just wanted to show that in the 18th century, people were still being creative with theatre — people were still working outside of the ordinary constraints of theatre.
Q. What makes Ludwig Tieck’s script different from the original story of Puss in Boots?
Olivia. It stays pretty close to the original folktale, which isn’t, by the way, at all like the Puss in Boots everyone knows from Shrek.
Jordan. We’re taking a piece that is antiquated and imbuing it with wild and exciting new choices that have probably never been explored.
Eden. This is the raw, bare bones presentation of the folktale.
Q. What were the major difficulties you faced preparing for this production?
Connor. The biggest difficulty was assembling the group, but overall, it’s been a very smooth process. Vincent Tolentino ’14, our director, and the production team led us through them. I love Vince.
Eden. Vince is really a hidden gem in the theater community.