Rareworks concocts bewitching take on family dynamic

by Sofya Levina / Beacon Staff • December 1, 2011

strongSofya Levina, Beacon Staff/strong

Plastic guns, cowboy hats, and the chime of southern drawl overtake the rehearsal room of Rareworks’ upcoming play, emSugar Witch/em. The actors stand in a circle playing warm up games. When the sounds of gospel music radiate through the speakers, everybody grows silent and takes their positions.

The Rareworks theater troupe is preparing to bring the southern gothic production above the Mason-Dixon line for the first time. The second play in Oppenheimer Award-nominated playwright Nathan Sanders’ emSugar Bean/em trilogy, emSugar Witch/em will debut its concoction of family, murder, sex, and flying cats on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Voodoo-practictioner Annabelle, overly naïve Moses, and oatmeal cream pie-loving Sisser make up the dysfunctional Bean brood which lives in Sugar Bean, a swampy patch of land in Florida. The dark and decrepit set, crafted from fabric to produce more dynamic lighting effects, exposes the molding poverty and misfortune of the Bean family. Caroline Rhymer, who plays Moses’ unfortunate suitress Ruth-Ann, said this dreary marsh setting makes the production stand out from other Emerson student productions.

“Sure, Emerson produces odd shows, but this is darker,” said the junior performing arts major. “Things don’t fit together like they do in other plays. The audience is watching something they feel they shouldn’t be watching.”

[caption id=attachment_3813916 align=aligncenter width=400 caption=Annabelle (Stefani Robinson, left), the titular Sugar Witch, hopes to protect Moses(Nico Walsh, middle) from her grandmother’s curse. Jonny Quinones portrays Granddaddy Meck (right). Sofya Levina, Beacon Staff]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/019.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813916 title=019 src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/019.jpg alt= width=400 height=300 //a[/caption]

Annabelle, the titular Sugar Witch, must find a way to break the vaguely-defined but horrible curse that her grandmother set upon the family — all while taking care of Sisser and Moses.

As the family falls farther into the clutches of the jinx, tragedy strikes when a mysterious and brutal murder takes place in the Bean family home.

“It’s not a realist play. It’s very fantastical,” said Nico Walsh, the freshman performing arts major who plays Moses. “I mean, there are flying cats.”

Though there are many background issues — like Moses’s struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality — the crux of the play is Anabelle’s effort to save those close to her.

“It’s about family. The importance of family,” said Walsh. “It’s about what a single person will do to protect this.”

The cast spent weeks focused on building a real familial dynamic and growing closer. Every day during rehearsal the director comes up with the “question of the day,” said Rhymer, as an exercise to get the cast to keep learning more about each other. On Halloween, the crew got together for a “family dinner.”

“Every single day we learn more about each other, about our family lives, really personal things,” said Rhymer. “This brings us closer together, and every time we see each other on the street, it’s a special connection that no one can really understand.”

strongemSugar Witch/em premieres Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Little Building Cabaret. The production is free./strong

emLevina can be reached at sofya_levina@emerson.edu. /em

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