Enchanted April by Matthew Barber
Pit and Balcony Community Theatre, 2008
Directed and designed by Marc Beaudin
“Enchanted April truly charming. … Beaudin directs his cast to near perfection.” –The Saginaw News
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My goal for this production was to touch the audience through all the senses to create an overflowing experience. For Act I, I constructed four “rain boxes,” three-sided window units rigged to have rain running over the windows continuously. The units were on casters to create different locations by turning and being set at different angles. The sides without windows had paintings and portraits. All the furniture, including a church altar were formed by rearranging two small tables and six bentwood chairs. The constant sound of rain combined with dreary lighting and solo cello pieces by Bach to create the mood of desolate and lonely desperation.
For Act II, the set dramatically changes to the Italian villa with bright sunshine and an explosion of flowing plants. Throughout the action, I had cinnamon and floral scents wafting from the booth, and at the end, a moment after silk flower petals descend on the actor playing Lottie, actual flower petals fall over the audience.
Director’s Note from the Program:
“To those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine …”
In these gloomy days of gray skies and cold winds, it becomes hard to believe that Spring will return with the scent of flowers and the stirring warmth of the sun – yet, we know that it must; somehow, if only we could be certain that the wintertime of our souls can be transformed as well.
The characters of this play have lost something: some nameless and vital quality that has slipped out of their lives without notice. This happens potentially to us all. Most people continue going through the motions of a live, never knowing what’s been lost. Some are painfully aware, and feel helpless to change it. A few, perhaps a very few, open themselves to the possibility of transformation, risk all comforts and securites, and make a leap of faith.
This play shows us, through laughter and tears, shouts of rage and joy, what could happen to those who leap, rather than cling to familiar ground. It was the novelist Ellen Glasgow who said “the only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” Elizabeth Von Arnim, the author of the novel on which our play is based, says of one of her characters, “She had been able to be happy only by forgetting happiness.”
Theatre is a mirror, and chances are you will see yourself in some of these characters. If this show reminds you of happiness that you’ve forgotten; embrace that realization, even though it may be painful. There is always the chance of blooming into a new Spring. As one of the characters says, we the living, at the very least, share “the luxury of promise.”
Here’s to all of us having the courage to see our ruts for what they are, the strength to climb out of them, and the faith to leap out of our past and into our future. May your own enchanted April come soon; overflowing with wisteria and sunshine.