For three nights this past week, student theater group Masque and Gown attracted full houses and long wait-lists with its first fall production, a stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery, And Then There Were None.
The novel, first published in 1939, chronicles the adventures of 10 people who are all lured for different reasons by a Mr. and Mrs. Owens to an island off the English coast. The guests soon realize the Owens do not exist, and worse, that they are part of someone’s strange plan to murder them one after another.
Christie’s thriller explores deeper meaning of justice in society, but ultimately it highlights the effects of guilt on one’s conscience. The psychological jargon of how different personalities react to guilt provides the backdrop for the play.
Student director Sabine Carrell ’13 remembers watching the thriller, and being captivated by the plot’s eerie horror, for the first time when she was 10 years old at her high school. The play left such an impression on her that she was unable to sleep for the rest of the week. She admits she continues to fear sleeping with her back to the room.
“It is just such a great mixture between comedy and horror,” Carrell said. “It attracts a wide range of audience.”
The script, while probing deeper themes, is also at times playful and comic. “There’s a connection between the audience and the actors and actresses that is harder to achieve when you have an abstract, artistic play,” State Manager Erin McKissick ’16 noted.
The show was a result of many, many hours of work by 30 students who worked before, during and after fall break, including Production Manager Jamie Weisbach ’16 and Technical Director Dana Hopkins ’14.
The board of Masque and Gown, a student-run organization founded in 1903, consists of ten students who choose productions. The board’s artistic director (this year, Cynthia Cammarn ’14) interviews potential directors and decides which show is best suited for that semester. The board discusses all of the options, either approving or disapproving the artistic director’s choice.
Kate Kearns ’14, president of Masque and Gown, said the decision process was tough this time as all the submissions were strong. She said plays are chosen based on how interested the board believes the Bowdoin community will be in the production, as well as on play’s technical feasibility and its suitability for the space — in this case, the small, intimate setting of Wish Theater.
Part of Masque and Gown’s mission is to expose more people to the world of theater. As a result, Kearns said the group tries to give opportunities to new or relatively inexperienced directors. Carrell is a history major who recently added a theater minor. Her interest in the stage began when she took an introductory acting class her freshmen year.
“It wasn’t easy deciding which show to produce,” Kearns said. “But we thought [Carrell] had a clear, exciting and beautiful vision for the show that was within our technical limits.”
Photos by Kate Featherston ’15