A Bug's Life: Students Act and Direct in Fall Production of "Metamorphosis"

Katie Maier

“The issue with reading Metamorphosis,” she said, “is that it was hard to envision this giant bug. In the play, it comes to life, and it's a lot easier to understand.”

“I’m excited to see where it goes,” says actor and Lovett senior Will Novak about Lovett’s production of Metamorphosis

This year, Lovett’s fall play is going to a new location: the outdoors. The stage has been set for an open air and socially-distanced performance in the Dell on the nights of November 12, 13, and 14, and the cast is looking forward to safely returning to the spotlight.

They will be performing a theatrical adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the story of a man who wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a human-sized insect. 

“I thought it was weird and long,” Chloe Beaver admits when I ask about her first impression of the written version of Metamorphosis. The novella has long been a staple of tenth grade English classes, although not necessarily a favorite among students. “The issue with reading Metamorphosis,” she said, “is that it was hard to envision this giant bug. In the play, it comes to life, and it's a lot easier to understand.”

One way the play deviates from the original story is in how it represents the protagonist, Gregor Samsa. In addition to Will, who embodies the creature, two other actors take on the role of his mind and spirit, narrating the inner thoughts and feelings of the man-turned-insect.

Ciara Kilroy, who plays Gregor’s spirit, says, “It’s really cool to play a character that doesn't really exist but is also really important to the story.”

Seniors Marshall Smith and Chloe Beaver are working alongside theatre teacher Mr. Decker to ensure all three sides of Gregor Samsa, and the other cast members, can deliver their best possible performance. This fall, they have taken a step back from acting to serve as co-directors of the play, using their own performing experience to help the actors develop their characters. While Mr. Decker is in charge of the main stage direction, Marshall and Chloe are tasked with breaking the actors into small groups and coaching them. 

“My script is full of a lot more notes than if I was acting in it,” Marshall says. Looking at a production from a director’s point of view has not only given him a deeper understanding of theatre but also made him more aware of the choices he makes in his own acting. 

Will Novak has really appreciated having the insight of his fellow acting students. “Mr. Decker has the main vision,” he says, “but Marshall and Chloe are bringing in those other perspectives that are helping it be a better play.”

The cast is looking forward to showcasing their work in a new, outdoor theatre constructed by the Design and Production team that will allow audience members to enjoy the story with an added measure of safety.

All audience members are required to wear masks and must purchase tickets ahead of time in order to attend the performance. Attending the play will definitely be a different experience from years past, but it has also proven to be an opportunity to expand the performance arts at our school. 

“It’s a breakthrough in the way we perform theatre at Lovett,” Chloe says, “and I can only see it leading to more outdoor projects in the future.”

Beyond the new outdoor scenery, this play is a fitting story to match the craziness of 2020. As Mr. Decker puts it, “No matter how bad or strange our current times might be, at least your loved one is not a giant beetle.”

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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