Terra Nova Preview
(L to R) Kathleen (Claire Koleske), Amundsen (Bob Diven) and Scott (David Reyes)
(L to R) Bowers (Joe Meier), Oates (Charles LeCocq), Scott (David Reyes), Wilson (Eric Young), Amundsen (Bob Diven) and Evans (Mark Steffen)
(L to R) Scott (David Reyes) and Amundsen (Bob Diven)
(L to R) Scott (David Reyes) and Amundsen (Bob Diven)
(L to R) Bowers (Joe Meier), Wilson (Eric Young), Scott (David Reyes), Evans (Mark Steffen) Oates (Charles LeCocq), and Amundsen (Bob Diven)
(L to R) Oates (Charles LeCocq) and Scott (David Reyes)
(L to R) Evans (Mark Steffen), Wilson (Eric Young) and Amundsen (Bob Diven)
(L to R) Wilson (Eric Young), Scott (David Reyes), Evans (Mark Steffen) Bowers (Joe Meier) and Oated (Charles Le Cocq)
(L to R) Amundsen (Bob Diven), Evans (Mark Steffen) and Scott (David Reyes)
May 31-Jun 16, 2013
No Strings Theatre Company presents TERRA NOVA by Ted Tally directed by Algernon D'Ammassa. This compelling and imaginative drama explores the character of Robert Falcon Scott ("Scott of the Antarctic") in the final, fatal days of his 1911-2 expedition to the South Pole.
Breaking new ground - 'Terra Nova' is a cutting-edge drama
- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin
The No Strings Theatre Company at the Black Box Theatre is to be applauded enthusiastically for its courage, vision, skill and insight.
Producer Ceil Herman is never afraid to take risks in selecting unusual, rarely produced plays.
I so admire, applaud and appreciate the many artistic risks Herman and her husband, Peter, have taken at No Strings since its inception more than a decade ago with Edward Albee's risky "Seascape."
Ceil Herman selects plays to produce that are "cutting edge" and otherwise would never find a venue in our community. Over the years, she and a coterie of especially skilled directors have mounted plays that examine issues that scream out for examination.
The current production, the 1984 best play writing Obie (best off Broadway play) award-winner, "Terra Nova" by Ted Tally, is no exception.
This masterful, powerful drama tells the tale of the final, ill fated expedition of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and his crew of four to discover and explore the Antarctic region.
During the second of his two exploration ventures on his ship, the Terra Nova, from 1910-12, during which he reached the South Pole, Scott was devastated and emotionally bereft to discover that he and his crew had been preceded to the South Pole by a Norwegian expedition led by Roald Amundsen.
On their attempt to return to their ship, Scott and his crew all died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and exposure to freezing blizzard conditions. Scientists believe Scott was the last of his team to die. He died in March 1912, but it took seven months for his frozen corpse to be discovered. It was covered with notes and his parka contained a journal he had written. These documents have become his legacy and are the source of much of the material for Tally's play.
Only after a restless night's sleep did the "Terra Nova's" message and Tally's artistic genius gel in my mind. I realized, and had my thought confirmed after reading the director's note in the program that Tally tells the story from Scott's "Dark Place Inside," from the perspective of Scott's deteriorating physical and mental condition. This is a stream of consciousness script, mirroring a confused mind, jumping from past to present to imagined past to the future as one would wish it to be.
An audience member must "work" to participate and benefit from gaining a full intellectual and artistic experience from "Terra Nova." Trust me, it is worth the effort. As the rabbis of old said in the Talmud, "According to the effort, so is the reward."
The cast is passionate and top notch. Director Algernon D'Ammassa has done a superb job of melding them together as one. Each character has an English/Australian accent and there is no "slippage."
Each character's flaws come out as the play progresses. Scott, as portrayed expertly and sensitively by David Reyes, was known in England at the time of his death as "the bungler" because of the quality of some of his judgments. Ultimately he is redeemed as a great and venerated hero, whose snow tomb is topped by a cross on which is carved Tennyson's words from his poem "Ulysses" - "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" - and which is re-carved on his permanent memorial on Observation Hill overlooking Hut Point.
The mood of the production is in no small part due as well to an innovative set designed by Tiffini Raimann and magically enhanced by Peter Herman's outstanding lighting design. Ironically, I saw the Aurora Borealis photographed via timelapse photography on television earlier in the day. Peter skillfully recreated the same effect electronically on the stage of the Black Box. It was miraculous! How the colors played against the set made me catch my breath.
The element that makes the production remarkably theatrical is the overbearing presence of Scott's nemesis, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, portrayed elegantly and deliberately obsequiously by master performer Bob Diven. Amundsen mystically appears in almost every scene, in subtle bullying ways, to remind Scott who really arrived at the South Pole first. Even in Tally's re-enactment of the famous expedition photograph, Amundsen appears in Scott's mind as being a part of the picture.
As Scott's mind meanders through the play, he reviews his courtship, marriage and ambivalence toward his wife, sculptress Kathleen Bruce, a student of Auguste Rodin, and whose social circle included Pablo Picasso and Isadora Duncan. Claire Koleske's portrayal of Bruce is both elegant and complex. Their scenes together show their mutual strong will, independence, vulnerability and affection.
The work of the other crew members is also noteworthy. Each has a distinct personality, yet they work as one to meet their goal. Eric Young, Joe T. Meier, Charles LeCocq and Mark Steffen each play off of each other and have a knowledge of the many technical instruments and supplies, which are on loan from New Mexico State University's Department of Surveying Engineering.
Steffen, in particular, has the most challenging role, and he does an amazing job of making us feel his physical and mental pain.
In all, "Terra Nova" deserves your attention. It's an example of the best theater our community has to offer. Bravo to all!
Next season at the Black Box promises to be even more exciting, including a rarely performed production of Ingmar Bergman's "Nora," a take on Ibsen's "Doll House." Season tickets are on sale now. Invest in our community's cultural growth. You'll get a great return on your No Strings investment.
"Terra Nova" runs through Sunday, June 16. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. June 9 and 16 and a Thursday evening performance at 7 p.m. June 13. Tickets are $10 regular admission, $9 students and seniors older than 65 and all seats on Thursday are $7. For reservations, call 523-1223.
No seating plan has been posted.