The Yale University Dramatic Association’s second show of the semester, “Creature” by Heidi Schreck, tells the story of a woman grappling with 15th-century gender roles, Catholicism and the devil himself.
The show’s director, Mikaela Boone ’21, became interested in “Creature” when friend and mentor Alexa Derman ’19 introduced her to the play as “a weird-ass comedy about disobedient women in the 1400s.”
After reading the script, Boone applied to direct the play as a Dramat mainstage production last spring. The show will make its Yale debut this weekend in the Yale Repertory Theater. Boone is especially excited about the venue as the York Street theater began its life as a church, and “Creature” features a church as both a setting and a symbol of the play’s religious undertones.
“It’s like church-ception,” said Boone.
The play hits on topics such as female empowerment and religion. The protagonist, a woman named Margery, who will be played by Jacqueline Blaska ’20, owns a successful beer brewing business with her husband. Margery is tormented by the Devil and later receives a vision of Jesus Christ, which leads her to pursue sainthood.
“The sort of arc for my character is that she finds God in a woman,” said Blaska.
“Creature” draws from the true story of two women, Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich. Kempe allegedly interacted with both the Devil and Christ before seeking friendship in Julian of Norwich, who also struggled with religious visions. While taking inspiration from historical events, the play takes artistic liberties with the personal lives of the characters and certain plot details.
For this production, special set and lighting effects will help communicate the surreal quality of Margery’s visions. According to Boone, the production will feature a nine foot by 12 foot cross, which will be set in a “layer of unreality” that characters can enter and exit. The show’s producer, Jordan Pilant ’21, noted that the colored lighting adds another dimension to the production.
The show also experiments with music. Musical director Brooke Milosh ’21 not only found fitting songs but also recorded members of the Yale Glee Club singing them to play as part of the show, according to Pilant.
“Creature” takes place in 1401, but members of the cast and crew asserted that its messages remain relevant today. Pilant explained that the production crew has incorporated modern aspects into the show to convey the pertinence of its themes and characters. According to Pilant, the set features 21st-century photos, and the dialect of the script is largely contemporary. Boone said these aspects will make the show “moderately time bent” and push the audience to consider the messages in regards to the modern day.
Despite the heavy themes, however, the play is a comedy. Boone said the comedic elements of the play help to further its themes, emphasizing the value of discussing serious topics in a humorous setting.
“Creature” will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with an extra matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Lindsay Daugherty | firstname.lastname@example.org