By Jake O. Fenniman
One hardworking student, Maddie Levine, a senior playwriting and screenwriting major, is in the middle of rehearsals for her project, an adaptation of “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, titled “A Little Woman.”
Levine considers it a borrowed adaptation because a majority of the characters are removed and, what characters are in the play, are expanded on from their book counterparts. The most notable change is changing the setting, from 1870 to 1970 because it was easier to adapt.
The play follows four sisters living their lives and growing up, but Levine’s version focused more on the two sisters Jo (Elizabeth Buckley) and Amy (Kristen Schepis) and their romantic partners.
While Jo was an important character in the book Levine wanted to elevate Amy’s story.
“The same things happen, but they are more in the forefront,” said Levine.
The other two sisters Meg and Beth do appear, but they are played by Buckley and Schepis respectively.
“It was the first time the sisters were double cast,” said Levine.
The production is a small one, with only four actors and ten crew members. The other characters in the play are Professor Friedrich Bhaer (Egzon Muja), Jo’s love interest, and Laurie (Seamus Higgins), Amy’s love interest.
Muja is a transfer student who immigrated to the United States from Albania. While he is majoring in economics his love for the stage shines through. He plays the German professor with an accent, a task he found difficult, but enjoyable.
“I have to mind my verbal posture. I can’t just change the way you say a few words. You have to mind how you say everything,” said Muja.
Due to the play being a loose adaptation, Levine chose to give her actors a lot more freedom with getting into their roles and becoming comfortable with the dialogue. Higgins, to get into his role, was inspired by two of the main characters from “That 70s Show.”
“Lorie wasn’t well developed in the book so I had a lot of freedom. Tried to do a mix of Eric Foreman and Kelso,” said Higgins.
In addition to giving actors freedom with their portrayal the dialogue and script were also prone to changing. After finishing their first run through Levine told them to cross out two lines in an early scene. With the play being set in the 1970s Levine added that Professor Bhaer was a victim of the Holocaust and works that into his and Jo’s relationship.
“Bhaer as a character has always been a German immigrant, so when I looked at the timeline, it lined up that way and the idea just made perfect sense to me,” said Levine. “I was very fortunate to have been raised with a comprehensive Holocaust education, and so it was something I was confident in writing into the play. I also thought it give me more to explore [Bhaer] as a character.”
The play will be performed on Nov 22 at 7 p.m. and Nov 23 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Humanities Building. The play is two acts and will run for approximately one hour and 45 minutes. It will be the second play Levine directed and she is proud of the work she put into “A Little Woman.”