The Milford Project, by Kevin Oeser and Nick Martin, has made its way to UNC for an East Coast premiere on Thursday, February 23rd. The cast and creative team is working hard to produce an amazing show. Two weeks after the first rehearsal, we ran Act 1 and I have to say… it was awesome for a first run through!
For those of you who are not familiar with The Milford Project, the show tells the story of Richie, a thirteen-year-old science prodigy who attracts the attention of the US government with his research into the properties of the atom. Richie is secretly told to construct a superweapon Amercia can use in the coming war… because no one ever suspects the child. The Milford Project offers a little bit of everything: love, science, puberty, war and more science. Oh and it’s a musical, so there will be singing and dancing with a lot of laughs in between!
Scott Ripley, an assistant professor in the Dramatic Art Department at UNC, has taken on the role of director for this show and wow, what an indescribable experience, but I am going to try and share as much as I can. Scott brings an electric vibe to the room and encourages the actors to find the joy in the work that they are creating. Since rehearsals started a little over two weeks ago, Scott has been working with the cast on using aspects from commedia dell`arte. He trained in this type of comedy with Katrien van Beurden and Carlos García Estévez at Teatro Punto in Amsterdam. Don’t worry, if you don’t know what this is, it’s okay… Scott had to explain it to me too! A very short summary about commedia dell`arte is that it orginated in Renaissance Italy but was lost for many centuries. Essentially, it is the source of all comedy in the West that deals with comic archetypes and most importantly recognizing that the work is for and with the audience. Lazzi, a comic bit that lasts anywhere from 3 seconds to a litte over a minute, is one of the main focuses. A modern example of commedia dell`arte is Family Guy or most any cartoon.
For this project, commedia dell`arte will help our troupe discover our truthful, yet unrealistic selves, find the joy in the creation of theatre and to learn a form that is for and with the audience. The cartoonish characters offer the actors a different way to explore their own talents and let me just tell you that this cast is INCREDIBLE!! They are working so hard (and professionally) to really understand this comedic structure, the music and the choreography. They even helped me come up with a Twitter hash tag specifically for Milford: #gomilfgoamerica (follow us here). The creative team is doing such an awesome job as well. It is amazing the dedication everyone is showing to this show.
Rehearsals are such an amazing experience for everyone involved. The script is hilarious and each cast member has a unique ability to create a true musical comedy. I will hopefully be posting photos and videos soon to share a little more of our experience with you all!
If you want to know more about The Milford Project at UNC, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Rebecca Black, Associate Producer