Student-led ‘God of Carnage’ showcases CSU’s theatrical talent

Lauryn Bolz

Bruce Gammonley portrays Alan Raleigh, a lawyer who is always attached to his mobile phone. (Collegian | Lauryn Bolz)

Theatre can be a challenging art form to conquer. Directors need inspiration, dedicated actors, a set, lights and everything has to come together seamlessly to transport the audience into the world of the play. Colorado State theatre students are meeting all those challenges and creating an entire show from scratch. 

Bradley Calahan, a senior theatre performance major, and Dan Issacs, a senior theatre performance major, decided to direct the first student production since Young Producer’s Organizations production of “Buried Child” in 2016. 

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I really liked that (this show) has a four-person cast, and I really enjoy working on characters and being able to focus on each of the actors individually. It’s been a fun process.” Dan Issacs, student director.

Calahan and Issacs selected the show “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza. The show centers around two couples meeting for the first time to discuss a fight between their children.

The particularly small cast, along with the minimal set, gave Isaacs and Calahan the opportunity to express their creative freedom in different ways.

“I really liked that (this show) has a four-person cast, and I really enjoy working on characters and being able to focus on each of the actors individually,” Issacs said. “It’s been a fun process.”

The actors capitalize on the tension between the characters, especially when it comes to Bruce Gammonley as Alan Raleigh and Maggie Albanese as Veronica Novak. (Collegian | Lauryn Bolz)

Actors Maggie Albanese, Holly Wedgeworth, Keegan Bockhorst and Bruce Gammonley seamlessly step into their roles as the frustrated and unhappy parents. They flawlessly portraying themes of the complexity of human nature and primal instincts in the modern world, all with a hint of dark humor.

According to Issacs, working with his fellow students as well as staying on top of the workload presented its own challenges. 

“The main challenge I think we faced was managing people who are our peers and don’t necessarily see us as someone they have to listen too,” Issacs said. “There was also the element of self-managing and making sure we stayed on top of our progress and work without someone watching us.” 

Perhaps more interesting than the drama onstage is how the show came together in the first place.

“Brad (Calahan) and I became friends our first year here and we had talked about putting on a student show over the summer and it never really happened because it’s extremely difficult,” Isaacs said. “About a year ago we brought it up again and Bradley started the process of contacting the department head and getting the ball rolling.”

After upwards of a year of planning and attaining approval from the department, the two were ready to really get the show on the road. Isaacs and Calahan carefully built a cast and crew of other students who they had worked with in previous shows.

The play has no shortage of drama or drinking. Holly Wedgeworth as Annette Raleigh plays a drunken wife. (Collegian | Lauryn Bolz)

“We knew the whole cast before the show because we’ve acted with them over the past two years,” Calahan said. “It’s been a blast showing up to rehearsals and hanging out with them.”

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The show also offered hands on experience in theatre production.

One of the best things about this production being made up of entirely students is the capacity for learning,” said Tara Tolar-Payne, the stage manager for the show. “Everyone is still trying to learn their position whether it be lighting, directing, and sound. It created an understanding environment in which we could make mistakes and learn from them without the pressure that sometimes exists in trying to impress our professors.”

CSU production of “God of Carnage” opens on Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. and will run through Sept. 23. The show is in the large acting lab at the University Center for the Arts and is free to the public. Seating is limited. 

Lauryn Bolz can be reached at entertainment@collegian or on Twitter @laurynbolz.