The Hippo


Mar 26, 2019









When: Now through Nov. 19; showtimes on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. 
Where: Hatbox Theatre, 270 Loudon Road, Concord
Cost: $17 for adults, $14 for students and seniors 
More info: 715-2315,

About time
Arcadia comes to the Hatbox Theater

By Angie Sykeny

 Emily Karel was 13 when she first read Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia. Since then, she has dreamed of acting in a production of it. She kept an eye out for audition opportunities for several years, but no local theater companies produced the play, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I’ve loved the play for a long time, but it’s not often produced regionally,” she said. “It got to the point where I wanted to do it badly enough, and I realized, if I was ever going to do it, I would have to produce it myself.” 
Karel is producing and acting in Glass Dove Productions’ Arcadia, which is on stage now through Nov. 19 at the Hatbox Theater in Concord.  
The play explores big ideas in the realms of science, mathematics, history and philosophy, but does so with dry and witty humor and is considered a comedy. 
It consists of two storylines, both set in Sidley Park, an English country house in Derbyshire, England, but in two different time periods — one in 1809 and 1812, and one in the present day. The earlier story follows teenaged Thomasina Coverly, the daughter of a noble family and a prodigy in mathematics and physics. 
The other story centers on modern scholars Hannah Jarvis, who is investigating the lore of the Sidley Park Hermit who lived on the property during the early 19th century, and Bernard Nightingale, who is doing research for a theory he has about the life of Lord Byron. While Hannah and Bernard try to uncover the mysteries of the past, the truth is gradually revealed through Thomasina’s story. 
“The play jumps forward and backward in time, so you see the [historical] events unfolding, and at the same time, you see the characters in the present day trying to make sense of what they think happened,” Karel said. “It lets the audience in on the joke, because they know what really happened, and the characters get some of the information completely wrong.” 
As Arcadia progresses, the line between the two time periods becomes blurred. In the traditional production, the scenes from both storylines take place within the same set and with the same props, which has made for a unique challenge in designing the set and executing fluid transitions between scenes. 
“The set incorporates elements of the past and present, and at particular moments, you aren’t quite sure which one you’re in,” Director Catherine Stewart said. “But there’s a reason and a purpose for certain objects to exist in both eras, so you have to make sure you get that right, and that they aren’t in conflict with one another.” 
After Karel recruited Stewart to direct the production, the two discussed what acting role would be best suited for Karel. They agreed to cast her as Thomasina, a role she has long aspired to play.  
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” Stewart said. “She knew it was a challenge, but she wanted to take it on.” 
The biggest challenge with playing Thomasina, Karel said, is capturing the complexities of her character, both as a 13-year-old and, at a later point in the play, as a 16-year-old. 
“She’s a teenager emotionally, but she’s a genius, so you have to try to get inside the mind of someone who is curious about things like love and sex and her place in the world, but also figures out the second law of thermodynamics and writes algorithms,” she said. “It’s a really interesting role to play.”  
In addition to regular rehearsals, the cast worked with a dialect coach to master the appropriate accents for the region of England where Arcadia is set, and for the different time periods.  
“It’s quite a workout to keep up [the accent] for two hours. You really have to train your face and vocal muscles,” Stewart said. “That’s been a fun and interesting challenge for all of us, and the actors have really dived into that challenge.” 
While Arcadia is well-appreciated in the theater world in the U.K. and major U.S. cities, few people in New Hampshire have heard of it, Karel said. She hopes her production will raise awareness about the play, and that other local theater companies will realize its merit.  
“It doesn’t have that name recognition yet,” she said, “so we’re really trying to get the word out and get people interested and curious about the characters and the story.”

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu