"Everyone has the capacity in themselves to commit horrible crimes, but for the most part we don't act on our impulses," director and Lycoming College alumna Bridget Leak said.
The same can't be said for the characters in Neil LaBute's "Bash: Three Plays," who have found themselves in desperate situations and have answered with alarming actions.
"These characters are not monsters - they were just responding to extreme circumstances. I wanted to make sure that these rough LaBute characters remained human, even if their crimes seem inhumane to the audience."
'Bash: Three Plays' will be performed at the Mary L. Welch Theatre at Lycoming College at 8 p.m. Feb. 8 through 11. To buy tickets for the show, call 321-4048 or visit the box office between 1 and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets also may be bought from 6:30 p.m. until the final curtain the night of the show. For more information, visit www.lycoming.edu/theatre.
Fresh from a run in New York City, "Bash" will come to the Mary L. Welch Theatre at Lycoming College at 8 p.m. Feb. 8 through 11.
The production consists of three contemporary interpretations of ancient Greek myths: "Iphigenia in Orem," "A Gaggle of Saints" and "Medea Redux."
The two featured performers are Dustin Crouse, who also is a Lyco alum, and New York-based actress Dana Leigh Snyder.
Judging from the stark, black and white promotional images and the fact that there are only two roles, theatergoers should ready themselves for an emotional roller coaster - one that will cause them to analyze their own actions and to wonder, "What would I have done?" The confessional nature of the performances also should connect with a tell-all world, in which people are constantly writing about themselves through social media.
Leak said that she wanted to direct "Bash" because of the vulnerability of the characters.
"I am an actor's director - meaning that I really love working with actors, helping them find motivation [and] giving them other ideas or adjustments that might reveal more about their character," Leak said. "The problem with 'Bash' is how do I help the actors justify their horrible actions while still making them human? It would be so easy to write these characters off as evil villains, but what drew me to the play was to work against that [and to] show the audience the characters' vulnerability and justifications and then let the audience decide."
Leak recruited Crouse to perform in the production because she had worked with him while she was a student at Lyco.
"Dustin is an extremely talented actor," she said. "Working with Dustin is so rewarding because Dustin has a lot of self-awareness that makes him open to making even the tiniest adjustments. If I give him a note on inflection, he knows exactly what I am after and why I am asking him to do it."
When the two were looking for an actress to fill the other role, Crouse suggested Leigh Snyder.
"I didn't meet her until our first read through," Leak said. "Dana is incredibly talented because she is able to touch the core of the emotional life of her character and the minute she taps into that, the character opens up to the audience."
It took Leak and Crouse about a year to bring the production to fruition.
"The timeline was Dustin and I met in March of 2011," she said. "We had our first read through in April [and] rehearsed on and off throughout the summer. I found a producer in August, we obtained the theatre in October and that's we started rehearsing four to five days a week. We went on Christmas break, came back and start rehearsing every day, had our tech and we did 8 performances Jan 12 through 14, 18 through 21 at Theatre Row, in the Studio Theatre."
Leak said that N.J. Stanley, associate professor of theater at Lycoming College, was the one who suggested they bring the production to Williamsport.
"It actually worked out surprisingly well, like the stars were aligned; Dustin and I are both Lycoming alums and Lycoming is celebrating its bicentennial.," Leak said. "J. [Stanley] really worked hard to make it all happen though. She really pushed to have us - working professionals - return to Lycoming to share this production."
Leak said that she is thrilled to be able to direct a play at her alma mater.
"I am beyond excited," she said. "I didn't discover directing until my final year at Lycoming and to come back six years later with an MFA in directing. Living and directing in New York City is fantastic. I can't wait to share this production with the students and faculty."
She is a little nervous about what her mentor, Stanley, will think of the show.
"She has been my mentor and best friend for 10 years and she has seen virtually everything I have directed, so I am very anxious and excited to hear what she has to say," Leak said.
Leak received her master of fine arts degree in directing from Pace Univerity. She was a German-French major at Lycoming College and actually ended up directing theater in France at one point.
"After graduating from Lycoming, I worked at a French Language Camp, Concordia Language Villages, in Minnesota for a summer and then I lived in France for a year teaching English in two primary schools," she said. "It was a fantastic experience and while I was living in France I got to direct a lot of children's theatre in French which was a great experience."
Leak said that she thinks "Bash" appeals to people because "The audience gets to be in the confessional room and then decide if the characters got what they deserved."
As far as what's next for the director, Leak said that her play, "A Piece of My Heart" was picked up and now is being produced for two weekends in February.
"When I leave Lycoming, I go right into tech week for that play. 'A Piece of My Heart' by Shirley Lauro is about six women who go to Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, helping out in various capacities (nurses, army, red cross, USO) and their experiences in Vietnam and the struggle with coming home and returning to civilian life."
To buy tickets for the show, call 321-4048 or visit the box office between 1 and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Tickets also may be bought from 6:30 p.m. until the final curtain the night of the show. For more information, visit www.lycoming.edu./theatre.