The Mug is known to be a dark and obscure space for students to procure romantic liaisons under the veil of anonymity. But this weekend, The Mug will be transformed from its usual role as a place to be faceless to the highly intimate performance space of “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls.” The show’s intimacy is not exclusive to its setting: “Aloha”’s foundations entail absolute connection between those involved.
And like an average Mug Night, “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls,” is tinged with absurdity. Ryan Eykholt ‘17, said, “I’d say come into the show with an open mind. You’ll see a lot of weird things, and you’ll probably be like ‘WTF’ during a lot of it, but some of those WTF moments are the most informative and powerful.” Eykholt is not just an actor but a member of the team that is putting up “Aloha” together. The surprise factor is certain, as the content of the show is very hard to put into words: “Expect to laugh, and expect to be confused,” said Joe Metcalf ’17, another member of the show’s team.
What is it about the show that makes it so different from any other? Grace Gregory ‘17 said, “[The show] kind of makes no sense but at the same time explores human interaction and life transitions.”
Aloha” uses absurdity to its advantage and creates an environment in which the absurd becomes the norm. The characters speak about surreal ideas as if they are having a daily conversation.
Eykholt said, “Although we’re all talking about mummies, Komodo dragons,and piñatas, everyone speaks in such natural, organic, direct and conversational way.”
Therefore, the absurdity of the show does not put the audience off. Instead, the audience can relate and look forward to each scene. Eykholt added, “It’s ridiculous, but somehow it’s able to reach people in a really personal way. I think every audience member will find a moment in the show that really speaks to them.”
Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls”’s content enables audience members to embrace the show for its inclusiveness instead of being alienated by its absurdity. Furthermore, the show’s strange content functions as a method of connecting its characters to each other. Metcalf said, “It’s about people trying to find their place in the world. It’s about people who are connected in some weird way, and they are trying to find themselves.”
Unlike the characters in “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls” who are obscurely related, the cast became incredibly tight-knit and dependent upon one another in order to put on the show. “It was a collaborative experience,” said Metcalf, “There’s no director; there are four facilitators, and the actors all make different collaborations. We made all decisions as one.”
The collaborative experience demands that the group acts as a whole when making each and every decisions about the show. Gregory said, “As a cast, we workshop each scene until we’ve created something we all feel good about. Because the show is collaborative and we have no director, every actor is equally as influential in shaping the work, which is really exciting.”
This process has had a role in transforming the over-the-top absurdity of the show into an organic experience that includes every “Aloha” member. Gregory added, “To create a sense of reality we find the human traits in each character to make them relatable to the audience.”
The process of producing “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls” gave each and every member of the group the satisfaction to have played a large role—beyond that which is enacted onstage—of the show. Since there is no director, actors felt much more powerful throughout the entire process. Eykholt said, “I’ve felt incredibly engaged and challenged creatively in this show. We have such a talented cast and crew, and when we craft a collective vision, it’s so rewarding to see the show come to life, because you know that you had a big part in its creation.”
At the end of their collaborative creative process, the team—in consensus—felt very comfortable with what the show has developed into; “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls” includes input from each member of the team. Said Metcalf, “It feels more like our show, because we all have our touches.”
The cast and the members of the production team affirmed that they work very well together and do not hesitate to listen to one another. This makes the rough journey of production a little bit smoother. Said Eykholt, “We all work really hard and communicate well. Our stage manager, Kelly Wilkinson [’15], is amazingly organized and always keeps us on track and on schedule.”
While the team behind “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls” acts as one, they are made up of a varied group of students. “We have a very diverse group, a wide range of actors: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” said Metcalf.
The members of the team trust that they are all different people, and all have something to learn from each other; everybody’s opinion matters and holds equal value, and the group’s diversity ultimately benefits the production.
The group’s determined mindset compensates for the fact that “Aloha” does not have a very high budget. “I think everyone in the cast and crew has a lot of ambition when it comes to the production, Metcalf continued. “Throughout the whole process, I think we have been very smart about what is realistic and possible with the resources we have and the space we’re using.”
In addition to the group dynamics, the dedication of the cast and production team to their synergistic show is what reassures them that it will all work out in the end.
Gregory affirmed, “Tech week is always stressful, but we know it will all come together on opening night.”
Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls” will be performed on April 10, 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. in The Mug.