“Equus” cast and staff announced, actors begin preparation

Photo courtesy of Paulina Veremchuk
Hailie Gold ‘23, pictured, is directing yet another Wofford Theatre production, “Equus,” for the Spring 2023 semester.
Photo courtesy of Paulina Veremchuk Hailie Gold ‘23, pictured, is directing yet another Wofford Theatre production, “Equus,” for the Spring 2023 semester.

Wofford’s theater department announced their spring production as Peter Shaffer’s “Equus.”

Hailie Gold ’23 is directing and spent the week of Feb. 6 selecting the cast and crew.

“The auditioning and casting process was similar to prior Wofford Theatre shows,” Gold said. “For auditions, all auditioners prepared a monologue for performance.”

“A difference from the standard process was the audition form itself, as this show contains both emotional and physical situations requiring actor consent from day one. The degrees of comfort indicated on the form did inform casting in some regards, but the show was cast within the same week as auditions.”

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The cast includes:
Mary-Michael O’Hara ’25 as Dr. Dysart.
Alex Malvern ’23 as Alan Strang.
Ryan Poole ’24 as Frank Strang.
Kimi Crouch ’26 as Dora Strang.
Anneka Brannon ’26 as Nurse and Jill Mason.
Emily Monteverde ’24 as Hesther Saloman.
Jack Tope ’26 as Harry Dalton.
Cole Geyer ’26 as Horseman and Nugget.
Nadia Drahun ’25, Jessica Branham ’24 and Josie Thillet ’26 as the horses.
Staff members are as follows:
Colleen Balance, associate professor of theatre, as the set designer.
Joanna Burgess ’22 as lighting designer.
O’Hara as costume designer.
Zari Mackey ’25 as sound designer.
David “KW” Kenworthy as technical director.
Maya Fein, assistant professor of theater, as the production manager.
Oscar Soto, studio arts manager, as the horse head sculptor.
Liana Giannopolous ’25 as the props master.
Rachel Johnson ’24 as the stage manager.
Molly McMahon ’26 as the assistant stage manager.
Audrey Buffington ’24 and Robin Reif, arts center manager, as the media consultants and box office managers.

Laura Rikard, assistant professor of theater at USC Upstate, will be visiting as the intimacy choreographer.

Malvern and O’Hara are cast as the lead characters in the show and are prepared for the semester of work ahead.

“We rehearse from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, until April,” Malvern said. “We also do work outside of rehearsal when we go over lines, answer our characters’ essential questions and do character research.”

“I’m preparing by taking lots of time to connect the dots in (Jill’s) story and figuring out exactly why she acts the way she does,” Brannon said. “Because of the heavily psychological nature of the play itself, I am (also) being sure to find extra time for rest and self-care between rehearsals.”

Poole said the key component for his work in getting into character is examining his own relationships in life and allowing those to come through in his role.

“I’m playing the father in ‘Equus,’ so I will analyze my relationship with my own father and pick pieces of that in which I would like to incorporate,” Poole explained.

O’Hara is using a similar strategy in her role as a psychiatrist by speaking with John Lefebvre, professor of psychology, about what mental health was like in the 1970s and reaching out to an on-campus therapist about her counseling strategies, working to make her role as authentic as possible.

She also explains how the intimacy, on top of the partial nudity, is explicit in the topics discussed, including mental health, sex, sexuality and religion.

“I’ve played intense roles before, but never this intense,” O’Hara explained. “I’m really close with (Malvern) and we’ve done many plays together, but all of our past characters have been comedic. This one will be a little more challenging because of how serious it is, but it’s nice going into a such serious role with someone I’m so close to.”

Malvern’s character will have some partially nude moments, but he said that he is prepared for that.

“I have complete trust in the people I am working with, they’re my friends,” Malvern explained. “We’re also working with professionals on this, so I know it will be done well.”

The actors are prepared to put forth a semester’s worth of hard work to make the production the best that it can be.

“It’s a labor of love because we are all so excited for and passionate about the play,” Malvern said.

O’Hara explains that the production will be different from previous Wofford productions because of the way in which it doesn’t provide the same level of comedic relief.

“Attendees may chuckle to themselves, but, generally, they will walk away different from when they walked in,” O’Hara explained.

The show will run from Apr. 20 through 22 and 26 through 29.

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