For her senior honors thesis and through LAB! Theatre , she decided to compile all three of the plays into a 90-minute production, instead of the usual six-hour-long run. This weekend, the project will come t o life.
“There are a million adaptations of ‘Henry VI’ out there, but no one has ever done it quite like this,” Rio said.
The combination of the three scripts into one performance is part of Rio’s senior honor’s thesis, a process she said has been a lot of work.
“The idea behind this huge script I’ve created is to be able to perform the essence of the trilogy in as much time with as many resources as it would take to do any of Shakespeare’s other free-standing plays,” she said.
“Henry VI” chronicles the rise and fall of Joan of Arc, the loss of Henry V’s English territories to France, the conflict between the York and Somerset families in the War of the Roses and a young king who struggles to control all of the chess pieces in an especially traitorous game.
In combining these stories, Rio created a production with a large number of characters and roles to play.
Rio said the experimental performance challenges the actors by having them constantly rotating between roles.
Max Bitar , a junior dramatic art and journalism double-major, will be taking on multiple roles: Lord Salisbury, the Duke of Gloucester and Edward IV. He said that it was difficult to learn three parts, let alone for a Shakespearean production.
“It’s definitely been challenging to play multiple roles, but a lot of fun actually,” Bitar said.
“It gives you a live variety of mannerisms and personalities to go through playing different people.”
Bitar also said that despite the difficulties the production has posed, Rio has done a great job combining three daunting plays.
“Melanie’s really sustained the plot of the story even though she has to cut so much of each play to get it all to fit together,” he said. “She has done a great job and she knows exactly what she is talking about.”
Of the production’s 10 actors, 65 roles will be split between just eight players.
Senior dramatic art and global studies double-major Madison Scott said she only plays one character in the production — Queen Margaret — but that the play has been difficult to work with nonetheless.
“This is mainly because the rehearsal process is so short and also because nothing like this has ever been done before,” she said.
“We’re working with very new material here that feels untouched, and it’s entirely new art.”
Rio said the show is bound to be enjoyable for audiences.
“It may be a bit difficult to follow in places with actors running off stage putting on a hat and pretending to be someone else five minutes later, but we’ve employed some kinds of theater devices to make sure the audience keeps up,” Rio said.
“It’s an ambitious project, but I think it will come together nicely.”