RawHead & BloodyBones' haunt audience

Posted by Melissa Cohn & Lauren Sager

From Feb. 20 through Feb. 22 in Studio A at the Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theater, nine female students performed the student-run production, "RawHead & BloodyBones."

The workshop was directed by Jeremy Ohringer '13 and Grace Troxell '13 and was managed by Rebecca McCourt '14.

The performance combined theater, art and music. It did not, however, contain any spoken dialogue. This unconventional characteristic itself was a large point of interest.

The 30-minute play was entirely movement-based and the absence of speech did not take anything away from the play, but rather managed to captivate and hold the audience's attention.

Based on an American folktale, "RawHead & BloodyBones" tells the story of two sisters from a dysfunctional family. The sisters embark on separate journeys of self-realization.

One of the sisters is sent on an impossible journey to the end of the world by her evil stepmother. When she finally reaches what initially seemed to be an impossible destination, she encounters RawHead and BloodyBones – two creatures who have been abandoned by their own families.

These creatures have never been shown love and threaten the protagonist. When the girl shows them compassion, RawHead and BloodyBones bestow good fortune upon her.

The evil stepmother then sends the other step-sister on the same journey. Upon meeting RawHead and BloodyBones, the second sister is cruel to them, and, in turn, becomes one of them.

Throughout the performance, the nine actresses engaged the audience with their frightening gestures accompanied by their frightening, eerie masks that were created by director Grace Troxell '13.

"RawHead & BloodyBones," performed by Kelsey Hull '14, Brittany Singer '14, Beth Svenningsen '13 and Alexia Zarras '14, controlled the movement of the other characters.

Dressed in all black and wearing makeup to match the masks, RawHead and BloodyBones stealthily prowled around the entire stage with their haunting movements.

The actresses used ujjayi breathing, a breath technique used in Hindu and Taoist yoga practices to emulate the sound of the ocean, to set a dramatic mood.

The first sister and step-mother were both played by two actresses each. Each pair of actresses manipulated the paper mache masks and the other body parts.

The first sister was played by Julia Bilbao '13 and Kathryn Rickman '13, and the evil step-mother was played by Laura Cornachio '14 and Adrienne Shaffler '13.

The directors did a phenomenal job of selecting moving and appropriate music. "Twice" by Little Dragon was by far the most fitting song. It was used in a scene where the first girl embarks upon her journey.

The lighting, done by Kelsey Lawler '13, was beautifully designed. The angles and colors set the tone for an emotionally compelling artistic display.

While the production was beautifully done and elicited a positive and emotional response from the audience, the performance was quite complex and seemingly detached from the audience.

Many might feel lost in the plot if they did not read the synopsis beforehand. The captivating masks and performances, however, managed to keep the audience's full attention.

However, the hard work of all who were involved in the "RawHead & BloodyBones" production could clearly be seen through every actress's moving, haunting and entirely captivating artistic display.

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