The University of Indianapolis Theatre Department will put on a two-person performance of “Treasure Island” on March 24-26 in Ransburg Auditorium. According to the director of “Treasure Island” and Assistant Professor of Theatre at UIndy James Leagre, the play will challenge the actors and provide them with a very different experience than they would normally get from a theatre production.
“[Performing with two actors] is probably the biggest challenge, but that’s also what I love about introducing [“Treasure Island”] at the college level,” Leagre said. “This gives [the actors] an experience that really pushes them.”
First-year music therapy major Anna Miles will be playing the roles of Jim Hawkins, Blind Pew and Captain Smollett in the play. Miles said that she differentiates the characters to herself and the audience by changing her mindset as she changes costumes.
“I’m usually [playing] Jim and… I just try to keep myself in the mindset of ‘I’m a young boy on a treasure hunt,’” Miles said. “And then when it’s time to switch characters… when [I] take off the costume [I] have to take that mindset off too—put the new one on, put the new mindset on. I take off Jim, I put on Blind Pew and now I’m a weird pirate guy.”
In addition to performing three roles, Miles said that one of the challenges for her will be putting up and moving pieces of the set during the performance. According to Miles, this is usually something that a technical crew would do, but is something that she and the other actors will be doing in Treasure Island.
“I’m excited to sort of be in charge of the technical side of things, too, because typically you have a tech crew for that,” Miles said. “[Typically,] they move the different pieces onto the stage, take them off, switch the scenery, but it’s our job to do it. So I think it’ll also allow me to appreciate their job more, because doing it while also being in character will definitely be a challenge.”
According to Leagre, one of the goals of the performance is to teach the audience about theatre. He said that since there are only two actors playing several roles, he hopes that the transitions between characters will be seamless and will seem impossible to the audience.
“For example, [the audience knows] for the most part it’s the same actor playing all of these roles, but they get to see in front of them these actors turn into different characters in the way that they change their voice and the way that they use their bodies, but then also costume changes,” Leagre said. “And one of the things we really try to push hard is almost tricking the audience into making it seem like it’s impossible to do what we did, meaning our costume changes are so quick, literally a character goes off and another one comes back on and it’s the same actor.”
Leagre said that another one of his goals is to spark interest in classic literature for the young audiences that the play is geared towards. He said that the play cannot include everything that happens in the novel, but there are cues from the actors that suggest there is more in the book than what the audience will be seeing.
“It’s obviously an abridged version of the classic story, and the idea behind it, or goal, is … to spark interest in classic literature,” Leagre said. “Because obviously in an hour we cannot tell the whole story of ‘Treasure Island,’ but we also build into it, in the performance itself, and the script itself, where it encourages the kids to want to read it.”
Miles said that since “Treasure Island” is designed to be a touring production for local elementary schools, the actors also interact with the audience. She said that the actors walk through the audience as well as bring audience members to the stage to play small roles along with the actors.
“Treasure Island” will take place March 24-26 in Ransburg Auditorium. Miles said that she hopes it will be a fun show as well as something the audience can learn something from.
“I think that it’s a really great experience,” Miles said. “I think you learn a lot about people, and I hope people come to see the show.”