“Venus in Fur” cast overcomes struggles with characters to put on ‘marathon show’
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“Venus in Fur” cast overcomes struggles with characters to put on ‘marathon show’

Theatre students presented “Venus in Fur” in the Arena Theatre this past week.

Rebecca Bailey, the director of the show and student, submitted a group of plays she selected, including “Venus in Fur,” to the department faculty, who then made the final decision to produce it.

“I was looking for something that was a small piece with a few characters,” Bailey said. “I wanted to really focus on the really in-depth character work as opposed to some of the larger productions I’ve directed where you spend more time people managing and blocking.”

The play is a feminist comedy which consists of only two characters, Thomas and Vanda, who get caught up between fiction and reality as they act out a show within the show.

“This girl comes in for an audition and she’s many hours late. And the director guy is trying to get out of there, and eventually she convinces him to stay and let her audition, and things just kind of spiral out of control,” Kit Asfeldt, a senior who plays the role of Thomas, said. “It’s sexy at times and it’s a little bit provocative.”

Many of the show’s more sensual scenes spawn from the character Vanda, played by junior Christa Gesicki.

“Vanda’s a firecracker. She’s confident, sexy, intelligent and excited about everything. She’s got a lot of depth, and I think she’s so fun,” Gesicki said. “But she is so sensual, and I am not, unless it’s private. So putting that on the stage is really difficult.”

Asfeldt said he also had some difficulties relating to his character.

“Thomas and I are both really passionate and both have really set ideas of what we want for our lives,” Asfeldt said. “But my biggest problem with Thomas is that he is so awful. I actually struggled for a really long time with trying to connect to how he treats women and how he views women as a gender, not necessarily as individuals.”

Portraying challenging characters was not the only difficulty that arose in producing “Venus in Fur.”

“We chose to stage this in a thrust stage, which means that it comes out into the audience. So we looked at angles, sightlines and we had to block around the giant pole in the middle of the set,” Bailey said. “It was an interesting challenge.”

Additionally, the show runs for roughly an hour and forty-five minutes and the actors never leave the stage once they are on.

“It ends up being almost like a marathon. You’re just always on and always going and you never get a break,” Asfeldt said.

Because of the difficulty of a two-person play, rehearsals for the show ran Sunday through Thursday each week for roughly three hours. After the technical work was added into the process, rehearsals for seven days a week ensued.

While rehearsals have been ongoing since September, preparation for the production started during the summer when Bailey began extensive research on the play.

“I probably have 50 to 60 pages of research that I did this summer in preparation for auditions. That really shapes the ideas and what you’re looking for when you start to cast,” Bailey said.

Along with Bailey, many other people were hard at work preparing for opening night.

“It’s amazing the amount of work that went into this that nobody ever sees. The designers, since before school started, have been working,” Bailey said. “I come in with a concept and idea and they totally come up with all these different options and designs to build upon what I am excited about in the piece. It’s an amazing collaboration.”

Because of the amount of time and work put into “Venus in Fur,” the success of the show is important. However, to Bailey success does not just come from the amount of tickets sold or the amount of profit made.

“I am incredibly process driven,” Bailey said. “So, for myself, having a great end product is important and wonderful, but the process of how we get there, the growth, the collaboration, the environment we create and what it is we feel we are saying with the production are all incredibly important to me, and I’d say we accomplished that.”

The USD Theatre Department’s next performance is “Young Frankenstein,” which begin showings Nov. 20-21 and Dec. 2-5.