The Benedictine College Theater Department began its 2023-24 performance season with The Yellow Wallpaper.
The production is based on the 1892 American short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It follows a woman on bed rest’s mental decline inside a room with only yellow wallpaper. Directed by Benedictine College senior Natalie Clark, it starred fellow seniors Elena Nguyen as “The Woman” and Gabriel Hanrehan as the husband.
The idea to adapt the story came from Benedictine College senior and playwright, Kaitlyn Imlay, in collaboration with Clark and Nguyen.
Though, the source material wasn’t easy to adapt. Imlay said the story didn’t clarify some elements and she had to fill in the gaps. Her research into the story’s time period helped bring this story to life.
“I remember very vividly reading it for the first time. It’s a really beautiful short story and I wanted to spend more time with it,” said Imlay.
Clark explains the collaboration dynamic between her and the theater team.
“The more we talked about it, the more I was ignited because of her [Imlay] passion for what she wanted to do,” said Clark. “I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with peers who are all creative. Young artists don’t really get the opportunity to do something this hands-on from the ground up,” said Clark.
Benedictine College junior, Scotty Smeltzer directed lighting while alumni, Ian Milton, composed an original soundtrack.
Nguyen had her own challenges with her character, as much of the story consisted of her own monologuing as silhouettes, played by Benedictine students Juliana Bednarick, Aurora Rain, and Cali Fitzgerald, tormenting her character from behind the set.
“One of the most difficult things has been memorization. That was one of the biggest mountains I had to climb.” said Nguyen.
The theater’s next production will be Machinal, debuting Nov. 10-14.