New York director works with Scranton Players

The Aquinas Photo / Kayla Shea JAMES PENNINGTON (left) and Cillian Byrne rehearse for the upcoming show in the McDade Center.  Byrne plays Katurian and Pennington plays Michal, the  leading roles in “The Pillowman,” set to premiere Nov. 14.

The Aquinas Photo / Kayla Shea
JAMES PENNINGTON (left) and Cillian Byrne rehearse for the upcoming show in the McDade Center. Byrne plays Katurian and Pennington plays Michal, the leading roles in “The Pillowman,” set to premiere Nov. 14.

LATRICE SMITH
Arts & Life Correspondent

A New York director arrived in Scranton last week and began rehearsal with The University of Scranton Players for the upcoming show, “The Pillowman.”

Jess Chayes is a Brookyln-based director and co-artistic director of The Assembly, a multi-disciplinary theater company.

Chayes heard of the opportunity here in Scranton through mutual contacts between her and Hank Willenbrink, director of the theater program at The University.

“Very fortuitously, there was some mutual collaborators,” Chayes said.

Brianna Kelley, stage manager of the show, said she is excited to work with this new director.

“She is very young, but sometimes that’s even better in a director because they have just come straight from Broadway or another production and they have a whole bunch of new ideas and techniques that they want to incorporate into the show,” Kelley said.

Brian Lenahan, an actor in the show, said he is interested to see what the new director will bring to the stage.

“She is a new director, and no one here has really worked with her before, and so I feel like it’s a great opportunity to learn styles that come from outside of The University,” Lenahan said.
Chayes specializes in directing ensembles.

“We are always interested in bringing in people that have different ways of working,” Willenbrink said.

Chayes said she enjoys working with new groups and finds it hard to let go of shows.

“I usually combat that by sticking around,” Chayes said.

Lenahan said he started preparing for this dark and humorous show before rehearsal started.

“Mainly my process has just been trying desperately to learn my lines and kind of understand the background of my character and what he is bringing to the show itself,” Lenahan said.

Willenbrink said the show is a challenging one that will move the audience.

“This is a play that is going to be a completely unique experience for most people,” Willenbrink said.

Kelley said this show rehearsal process will be a tough one and a little different from other shows she has worked on.

“There is a lot of emotional levels the actors have to get to before the actual show so the rehearsal process will be more of them getting off book and knowing their blocking,” Kelley said.
Chayes said the actors will make the show special.

“There is a point in the process where it becomes the actors’ show.”

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