UIC theatre students at center of ‘STORM’


UIC students Alex Rodriguez (center, dark gray shirt) and Leah Casey (pink shirt) are among performers in the Walkabout Theater Company, Moon Fool and Links Hall production of “STORM.”  Photo: R. Glass


A storm is coming — and UIC theatre students are right in the heart of it.

Walkabout Theater Company, the international ensemble Moon Fool and Links Hall will present “STORM,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” June 18 to 28.

Alex Rodriguez, a senior in theatre performance, and Leah Casey, a junior, are ensemble members in the production.

Rodriguez says bodies, movement and sound create the play’s own little world and resulting chaos. “A lot of people can do ‘The Tempest,’ but I think what’s happening here is a lot more exciting and experimental,” he says.

The adaptation falls in the theatre genre known as laboratory theater, heavily focused on actor, actor-research and ensemble, says Thom Pasculli, an adjunct lecturer of theatre who is co-artistic director of Walkabout and plays the lead in “STORM.”

“It’s theater that involves an international community and involves a way of training, existing together that’s different than an ordinary world or job,” Pasculli says.

The international team performs live music, singing, theatre and acrobatics to tell the story of a geoengineer, Prospero, exiled to an island bunker with his daughter, Miranda. “Tempest” characters Caliban and Ariel are also part of the story as Prospero tries to find a more sustainable solution to controlling the storm outside and Miranda seeks an identity outside that of daughter.

“The exterior storm, the storm within everyone else and the entire play is about the struggles between these four characters and how they come to terms with what’s happening,” Rodriguez says.

Ensemble members play a major part in supporting the main characters. Members sing in a chorus and perform background acrobatics, but not everything is scripted.

“The chorus work is action and reaction to the characters,” Casey says. “It’s more of impulse, and, in some parts, there are no set movements for us. We just have to feel what we’re doing.”

The play is Casey’s first professional production outside UIC. She says her background in dance helped her adjust to Walkabout’s modern take on Shakespeare’s classic.

“My father owns a ballet studio so he started teaching me as soon as I could walk,” she says.

“A lot of the movement classes I’ve taken at UIC have helped me understand how my body moves, and acting classes have taught me how to listen to what’s happening,” she says. “It’s really nice to put these skills that I’ve been learning to the test.”

Rodriguez says working in the production is helping him grow as an actor.

“‘STORM’ is so experimental,” he says. “You have to fail to succeed. I think that’s something that I’ve been struggling with, but I’m really happy that I’m a part of ‘STORM’ so that I can learn this now — especially before I graduate and I’m off into the real world.”

Pasculli says he enjoys working with Casey and Rodriguez in the off-campus production. “It’s another way we take what we learn in the classroom out into the professional world,” he says. “Casey and Rodriguez are both incredibly talented.”

“STORM” will be performed at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave. Tickets are $15 to $20 and available online.


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