TheaterHop: Snow White
Written by Bwog Staff
Bringing together all forms of media–from song and dance to film-footage and epic rants–Nessa Norich’s (BC ’08) senior thesis performance of Snow White showcased the rich creative diversity of our campus. Under the guidance of Director David Neumann (BC Theater Dept.), Nessa co-directed, choreographed and starred in a stunning reinterpretation of the traditional fairy tale.
Creating an intimate performance space, Nessa chose to seat the audience in folding chairs arranged perpendicularly across the Minor Latham stage. Facing into a narrow wing, where most of the performance’s action took place, the audience was forced to engage in the performance in a new, and perhaps, uncomfortable ways. Not only was this choice innovative, but it was completely appropriate given the subject matter and successfully recreated the cluttered den of the Seven Dwarves.
As Snow White, Nessa inflected all her lines with an eerie appeal. She mastered Snow White’s doe-eyed stare alarmingly well and sung her lines in equally alarming falsetto. Floating about the stage in a white dress and a long black wig topped with a pair of oversized headphones, Nessa’s Snow White was more creepy than chaste. After she led the dwarves in an orgiastic shower scene, brilliantly choreographed and backlit behind a shower curtain, it was clear this performance was no virginal fairy tale.
The lighting and sound, designed by Kati Fitzgerald (BC ’11) and Pardis Dabashi (CC ’08) respectively, reinforced Nessa’s provocative interpretation of Snow White. Matching red lights and blinding halogens with a mix of exotic music, Kati and Pardis surrounded the audience in an atmosphere of uncertainty. At times there was so much going on that the audience was unsure where to look. What was most impressive was that there was never a wrong answer.
Under the direction of Sam West (CC ’08) and Josh Breslow (CC ’08), the performance capitalized on the use of pre-recorded videos and live film footage. In a documentary-like clip, Sam, affecting a German accent, confronted the camera and detailed the “Snow White Conflict.” Perfectly timed cuts to a diagram of a female figure periodically interrupted Sam’s frantic rant and emphasized the absurd brilliance of his performance. Instead of distracting the audience, the intelligently edited recordings allowed them to enter the characters’ conscious.
Supported by an excellent ensemble, Nessa consistently drew in the audience’s attention. With the help of some black eyeliner and well-chosen costumes, the ensemble as whole had a mesmerizing stage presence and made the most of their bit parts. Bettina Weiner (GS ’09) played a chilling Evil Stepmother and together Ramon Torres (SEAS ’09) and Lakshmi Sundraram (BC ’08) headed the band of dwarves.
Dressed in a uniform of mechanics’ coveralls and headlamps, the dwarves excelled as a cohesive unit. Instead of seven dwarves, the gruff pack was made up fourteen miners who were far more bewildered and enticed by Snow White’s presence than they were bashful about it. Displaying her impressive creative vision, Nessa directed the miners in a visually stunning dance. Dancing in perfect time to mix of beat-box and Portuguese bass lines, the miners stomped out hip-hop moves with only their headlamps to illuminate the dark stage.
The cast handled the transitions into and out the production’s numerous music and dance performances with skillful control and confidence. At times, however, the performance lacked structure and the pace lagged. At one point, the dwarves donned white barrister wigs and commence a court hearing. Although it was mildly entertaining to see so many white curly wigs at once, the dramatic drive of the scene was buried beneath them. Thankfully, Sam West entered and revived the energy level with an incredible speech.
Often, Snow White lacked the clarity and intensity that Sam brought to his lines and that made his performance so effective. But, Nessa’s creative vision required her cast and crew to take risks and depart from traditional dramatic techniques. If their performance was not one hundred percent successful, their boldness is still worthy of high praise. With the distinctive brand of creativity exemplified last night, Nessa is certainly bound for bigger and brighter stages after graduation.