The following is a collection of mini-interviews with different cast and crew members of “Assassins”, giving insight to their particular roles and the production as a whole:Andrew Lowy (Assistant Director):
Q: As dramaturg, you devoted a large amount of time to researching Assassins -how did you apply your research to WCU’s performance?
A: It was really all about “finding each assassin’s context, how their time period and personality applied to each of their acts.” I wanted the actors to know everything they could, but still make it their own.
Trick Sullivan (Stage Crew):
Q: What did you enjoy most about this production from your vantage point?
A: The lighting design and all the different horizontal “levels” of the show – the stage has different heights to it, between the tower, the main stage, and the platform of the shooting gallery and electric chair.
Melissa Castillo (Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme):
Q: Your assassin has been characterized as mentally unstable. What steps did you take to get into her mindset?
A: Lowy bought books on each of the characters – I read a lot of descriptive events of Fromme and the Manson family, along with online research. “Physically, they told me ‘don’t be pretty’. I also focused a lot on sensitive parts of the body, like the wrists and neck.
Peter Collier (Sam Byck):
Q: What was more of a challenge – memorizing the monologues or developing Byck’s mannerisms and applying his persona to them?
A: The monologues – “it’s a rant, it’s not just one idea.”
“Byck can change from one emotional state to the next by a snap of the fingers.” I worked on the mannerisms separately, after a while they kind of came naturally. It was also challenging to connect to his emotional states and motives that drive the rants.
Mike Thatcher (John Wilkes Booth) & Eric Scotolati (Lee Harvey Oswald):
Q: Were you at all intimidated to represent such historical figures? How did you adjust to their personalities?
A: MT: Extremely – “one quote I kept encountering in my research was ‘America owed all her troubles to me, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment’. He never considered himself the villain, but rather the hero.” I wanted to be as accurate as possible while portraying that twist in his emotions.
A: ES: “I ended up more excited than intimidated.” You come to admire the character as you research them and you want to be able to represent them honestly. The true difficulty was “finding the right blend of who Lee was in reality and who Lee needs to be in the context of the play.”
Jon DeGaetano (Guiseppe Zangara):
Q: What was more difficult for you – learning Zangara’s accent or learning to sing with it?
A: “Both were difficult – his dialogue is so fast” – but it was definitely harder to learn to sing without losing the accent. The monologue in Italian was very challenging as well.
WCU’s theatre company breathes life and animation into the retired souls of the Assassins. Though it “takes many men to make a gun”, as Leon Czolgosz (Matthew Whalen) announces, Assassins shows it takes but one man (or woman) to put it to use, clearly becoming evident through the monumental moments of American history represented in this heart-stopping production.
Tara Tanzos is a second-year student majoring in secondary English education. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu.