Inside Jake’s Imagination

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By Chelsea Rae Nagy Two weeks ago, theatre major Jess DeGroff’s student directed play was performed in the octorium to the delight of those who attended. Chester Shepherd played the troubled lead in "Jake’s Women." Mired in an unhappy marriage with current spouse Maggie (senior Traci Kuiper), Jake tries to cope with his wife's insistence on a trial separation by conjuring up images of the other women in his life: his late wife Julie (senior Asha Stichter), his confused daughter Molly (played by both freshman Katie Zook and freshman Hannah Taubitz), his neurotic sister Karen (senior Rachel Miller) and his analyst Edith (senior Whitney Dennison). Putting his literary skills to good use, Jake carries on imaginary conversations with these ladies, hoping that they will help him sort out his problems. The real trouble begins when the spectres of Jake's Women begin showing up without his bidding, insisting upon debating and arguing with the poor fellow even as he tries to pursue a new romance with his current flame Sheila (freshman Andrea DeLonis) and he struggles for freedom from his own thought and self-inflicted issues. While it was a very heavy show at many points, the cast did an awesome job of making the lighter points. Audience members were laughing, gasping and crying together both nights. “I think it was hard for most of us to connect immediately with our characters because, for the most part, we were playing people significantly older or younger than we are--and people with much different life experiences,” Kuiper said.  However, “hurt, anger, and jealousy are things we all experience, so I found that I looked at my character's emotions, rather than her situations; I was able to connect with her.”  On her experiences preparing, she added “practices were always time consuming, but we had a lot of fun.” A lot of work went into the production. It was obvious that the director and actors put a lot of themselves into it. In facial expressions alone, much emotion was conveyed, and one moment in particular incited a great deal of laughter. Shepherd’s face after DeLonis was chased off stage by his ravings at the invisible Kuiper, a look of mingled horror and incredulity, was perfect. “I enjoyed the part where Maggie was manipulating Jake into yelling at Sheila. It was great because I knew he was causing Maggie to make him freak out, and that made his reaction that much funnier,” said Sophomore Michele Rice. Jake spent much of the play sabotaging his relationships. The audience also loved Miller’s very physical monologue and the flavor she brought to the role. “I enjoyed it thoroughly, every minute of it. It was my last time acting on a Bethel stage,” said Senior, Rachel Miller, who had never before played the comic relief. Everyone involved loved working with the others and DeLonis said that it was “easily one of the best casts [she’d] ever worked with. And the director, Jess, was incredible. She really knew what was up, and molded a brilliant creation. Veronica Zahn, our stage manager, was also amazing.” The general consensus of the cast and crew was that it was a great  group, and they were happy with how it came out. Taubitz’s favorite part that she was involved in was when her character, the adult Molly, met her mother in Jake’s imagination. “There were just so many emotions going on there, it was so fun to express them!” she said. “Besides, I'm generally a pretty passive person, so it can be therapeutic to haul off and yell, even if it is just acting. I also always loved when Andrea (Sheila) would run screaming offstage and through the waiting actors.”                 Some students really enjoyed the psychological parts of the show. Seniors Bret Stevens and Rachel Koons were among these. “It was very good because it was insightful into a widespread, but not often talked about, aspect of human personality,” Stevens commented. Koons said that the play “really made [her] think. The challenge Jake faces in wanting to control reality is something we all struggle with, and [she] was impressed with the way the playwright showed us how he struggled with that problem.”                 Koons also designed the lighting for the show. “I had a lot of fun messing with reality and imagination, she said.”
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