On Friday, December 4th, students of both AP English and the Drama class attended Carnegie Mellon University’s production of Lord of the Flies. The show featured some of CMU’s drama students, the producer Caden Manson, and their production of Nigel Williams adaptation of the novel. The show consisted of very intricate use of video cameras which recorded the performers whenever the audience could not directly seem them, projectors that projected the film being recorded on stage onto panels, smoke machines, and loads of fake blood made from the low budget traditional recipe of Hershey’s chocolate and strawberry syrup mixed together. Nigel Williams adaptation was an attempt to modernize the classic novel by William Golding, written in 1954 and set in an era far prior to today’s technologically advanced world.
Looking at the details of the production, the actors and actresses did a phenomenal job working with the cameras being used on stage , especially with some of the cast playing two characters at once. The set was interesting in that it was minimalist. The director had projectors projecting a background for the majority of the show and simple wooden panels on wheels placed methodically on the stage. The panels that were incorporated acted as scene dividers which, to me, was a little disorganized. Also, the other props such as a ladder to act as a hill and a decorative tree to act as a forest was uninteresting to me. Although the cast, crew, and producers were trying to put a modern twist on a famous novel, their message and display seemed too much of a stretch to be truly captivating. I often found myself nodding off during the performance.
At the talkback, where the cast answers questions from any remaining audience members, the cast explained their modern day adaptation of the novel. Instead of the setting of the play being on an island as it is in the novel, the director decided to make the play take place in a fraternity house, another location that is isolated from society; the public does not know what goes on behind its doors.
From there, Manson incorporated modern characters, video cameras to film the scenes that the audience could not directly see, and projectors to project the film being recorded on stage. Although CMU was trying to make their performance say that the evil qualities within us all still are evident in greek life, the internet, and modern day teenage relationships, I thought that all of those messages were not clearly displayed. The director tried to tackle too many different messages within the play that I almost did not get a single one out of the performance. Although CMU kept the theme that evil qualities can be found within us all consistent from the original novel, their modern day adaptation was too overwhelming for an audience to take in.