The Skyline View

‘The play is like a swansong’

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‘From the first floor of Building 1, projected voices can be heard from above. Going up the stairs, students are seen partially dressed in costumes. A cast of 10 people are rehearsing for the last production before Building 1 is demolished.

Arthur Miller’s play, “All My Sons,” is directed by Skyline professor Kevin Simmers. In his 24 years at Skyline and six years teaching and directing theater, he feels that this play is powerful and relevant to today’s issues. why?

Usually, there would be a larger cast, with 22 people being the largest-to-date. However, there weren’t as many people this semester who came to audition. Simmers reflected that these actors are not paid and that they volunteer their time and effort to make this play happen. Despite this challenge, the cast members are committed to continue with rehearsals.

“We only have 10 cast members in the show and double cast two female roles,” Simmers said. “The main characters are not double cast but the secondary characters [are].”

The atmosphere is casual before rehearsals officially begin, and then the warm ups start.

Salma Zepeda, who plays the leading lady, wife and mother Kate Keller, views the warm-ups and rehearsals as helpful.

“In the beginning there’s a warm up process that’s strict,” says Zepeda. “But the thing is [Simmers] allows you to get into character. He sort of allows almost every process and he is very accepting in that sort of terms.”

Zepeda emphasized that Simmers is open to experimentation as long as the student is putting their full effort into it.

Paul Pallas who began acting classes in the summer plays the lead husband and father Joe Keller, who is married to Kate Keller, and is responsible for deaths caused by knowingly shipping damaged goods for soldiers to use.

A few weeks into rehearsals, he thinks that everyone is getting on well.

“It’s beginning to feel more like we’re becoming an ensemble,” Pallas explained. “Like we’re actually jelling a little bit.”

By the end of every rehearsal, the mood changes due to the realities of war and corruption that hit home on the American forefront.

“It turns a little somber just because of the material source,” Zepeda recalled. “I’m not particularly sad about that, but I am proud that we’re able to get there as a collective… It’s one of [the] things that you have to get yourself out of for five minutes, especially when people try to make jokes…The mood shifts quite a bit for a drama.”

Compared to other plays, this play is different because of the politics involved. There are parallels of a war going on now and how many families are affected as Pallas explained.

“I think it’s very relevant to what’s going on today,” Pallas said. “War machine, cracked heads that are being carried off as a training accident. I think it’s relative in the family dynamic and losing a son, and the fact that this play revolves around World War II, we’re in a midst of a war now too even though people don’t talk about it any more.”

The cast members take the time to get into their costumes and set up props to reenact the play. Little by little, Simmers stops the actors in the middle of their scenes to make comments and give suggestions on how they can make it better.

Simmers feels that these are learning moments that have been successful.

“Well all of these actors are my students so rehearsal process is also a teaching process and they’re very open to that and I don’t get any resistance,” Simmers said. “We rely off and on the large cast, with each cast member pulling in audience. I’m a little concerned that we might not get an audience we should.”

Zepeda and other actors do feel the pressure to be their best in order to put on a great show.

Simmers as an instructor and a performer has one thing in mind for his students and cast: “I want them to move and sound really good at their craft by being excited,” Simmers said. “It’s amazing to bring the words to life and for the actors to grow and mature to something worth watching.”

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The student news site of Skyline College.
‘The play is like a swansong’