The creative vision of one SUNY Potsdam student will come to life on stage as part of the annual Spring Play Festival next week. Erin Nicole Harrington, senior theater major, wrote and is directing Transfigured Night, a play in one act roughly based on a poem by Richard Dehmel and the subsequent music composed by Arnold Schoenberg. The original story has been adapted from the original male-female couple to reflect the lives of contemporary lesbians.
Although Harrington drew inspiration from the works of Dehmel and Schoenberg, she mostly based Transfigured Night on her personal experience. "They say you have to write what you know and I think Erin has done a solid job of looking at that situation within the LGBT community," said sophomore theater and geology major Chelsea Wischerth who plays John Romme, the professor. "I think Erin wrote a great story that will hopefully reach closeted girls and speak to them," Wischerth elaborated.
Realizing something for the first time on stage has been a rewarding and challenging experience for those involved. "I love that Erin is both the playwright and director because she can essentially just do whatever she wants, which is amazing," expressed Wischerth. "[One challenge] has been learning lines that change quite frequently because this is a brand new play and some of the kinks had to be worked out," remarked Matthew DuBrey, freshman, who plays Stephen Maddow in the production. "It has been really cool to see the script kind of morph into what it is now," commented Liz Tarantelli, sophomore, who plays Ruth Hall. "I'm secretly hoping she gives me a line change opening night," she disclosed. "It's changed dramatically from where it started to where it is now," noted playwright Harrington. The play will quite possibly still be in flux until the very moment the curtain rises.
Writing and staging Transfigured Night doubles as Harrington's Presidential Scholars project and senior project for her theater degree.
Harrington's creativity does not stop with Transfigured Night. It is to be part of a "cycle of ten plays that deal with the experiences of American lesbians from 1920 to 2020," explained Harrington. Although Transfigured Night is the only fully realized play so far, she said it is "all sketched out in my head." Ideally, they will all be one act plays so that they can be performed together over a three-night span.
You can see the world premiere of Transfigured Night on April 28, April 30 and May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Black Box theater. Admission is free for students and $5 for the general public.