The second show of the season at Regent University is Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott, directed by Eric Harrell. In this heart-pounding thriller, a recently blinded woman must outwit a trio of would-be murderers in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. This production is a great way to start of October.Many people might recognize the successful film starring Audrey Hepburn. I have sat down with the Artistic Director of Tidewater Stage and Eric Harell, and the three thesis actors Rosette Jarriett who is playing Suzy, Luiz Vasquez who is playing Mike, and William Viriato who is playing Carlino.
1) What attracted you to the story of Wait Until Dark?
Eric: When I was an undergraduate student many moons ago, Wait Until Dark was my final project for a lighting design class and I’ve loved it ever since.
What has it been like portraying a blind character?
Rosette: Over the summer of 2015, I visited a visually impaired facility and interviewed with individuals who lost their sight at mid age. Researching and observing their mannerisms of the visually impaired helped me tap into the character quicker. Also, I spent a week blindfolded and actually experiencing what it would be like without sight. The first time that I went out into city with a helper blindfolded I was terrified. However, after repeating the same walk every day I became familiar and more comfortable with my environment. It forced me to pay attention and bring awareness to the sounds around me. It has been an exciting journey into Susy Hendrix’s blindness. Portraying a blind character takes discipline. It became easy to tap into the mannerisms as I practiced each day for four weeks.
2) What has been challenging about a process like this?
Eric: This show has been uniquely challenging in that the script details very specifically the actors’ physical movement and set requirements. Often, directors and designers have more latitude in these areas, but for the “con” to work correctly, the stage directions must be followed to a T.
3)Name a favorite moment during the show that you cannot wait for the audience to see.
Eric: The final scene is killer…literally.
Luis: One of my favorite moments as Mike is in Act 2 Scene 2. This is the last scene my character is in but its also the scene where the audience see’s Mike in a different light. There is an intense moment of danger for Susy in this scene where in the other previous scenes Mike is playing the good guy. I get to really put the pressure on Susy in this scene where as before I’ve been her friend and confident but now I’m her betrayer and enemy.
Rosette: My favorite moment is when Susy realizes that Mike has betrayed her.
William: The last scene Carlino is on stage is my favorite. Carlino has been losing his patience and needs to retrieve the doll soon. He pulls several different tactics on Suzy in order to achieve his goal; some tactics are a little surprising and will definitely catch the audience of guard.
4) The genre of suspense has been so thoroughly mined by movies that it’s almost like audiences are inured to the typical techniques: scary music, quick edits, tight point-of-view shots. What do you think the key is to making a really good suspenseful play?
Eric: We have an advantage in the theatre that film does not: proximity. It’s one thing to watch a suspenseful movie onscreen; it’s another experience entirely to be sitting inches away from the villain in a complete black out.
Rosette: A suspense play contains numerous key factors that make them successful. Three factors include: a great hero, providing obstacles, and keeping the stakes high.Frederick Knott wrote a successful suspense play that continues to thrill audiences. He stated, “With the blind girl you have someone to root for”. He created an exceptional hero that the audience can believe and care about throughout the play. Every character had obstacles that they were up against in order for them to get what they want. Also, the stakes were high in each scene which helped the characters’ pace and time move quicker. Suspense keeps the audiences on the edge of their seats and helps them rooting for the protagonist to win. The audience uses their minds alongside the protagonist to figure out the solutions to unresolved questions in the story.
William: Discovery. The actors need to be available to brand new information being thrown at them. Some of the discoveries are helpful to the characters to achieve their goal. Other discoveries are harmful and chatter the characters expectation of attaining their objective. If the characters are not available to the discoveries and already know what will happen later, there is no suspense.
4) How are you like your character?
Rosette: Although I am not blind, Susy and I have a lot of other common attributes. We both are around the same age. Also, we share a need of independence, a favorable sense of humor, and an abundance of courage and awareness.
William: Carlino does not think before he acts, he is too impulsive, and that gets him into trouble. I am like that sometimes. I now know that my actions have consequences. Analyzing my actions before doing them can be highly beneficial and have a more positive outcome. Even though Carlino is not the smartest, his story helps audiences reexamine their actions and words before doing and speaking them.
Luis: I think this role is ideal for me because I see Mike as the antihero. These are the type of roles that resonate the most with me. Where as Mike is more influenced by his bad behaviors over his good ones, I am influenced more by my good behaviors over my bad ones. As a Christian I do believe we are inherently sinners due to our fallen nature, and that is why I can relate to someone like Mike who is a bad person that in the end does a good thing. Romans 3:10 states “As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one.”
Wait Until Dark is running October 9th-18th. Come out and support our talented arts community!
Rakeem Lawrence is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Runner.