No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘Mathilda! A One Act Play’
No Refund Theatre (NRT) continues its fall catalog with its third show, “Mathilda! A One Act Play.” Students can see the show from Thursday, October 11, to Saturday, October 14.
Written and directed by Hayley Weber with co-directors Charlie Plante and Matthew O’Donnell, the story follows Mathilda, a princess who has woken up from a 3,195-day sleep. She finds herself in a tower alone with three dead bodies and a talking prophetic fish. The fish tells her that Mathilda must claim her rightful spot on the throne of Sucktoesville. Thus, Mathilda begins her journey to the palace, encountering many obstacles and finding friendship and love along the way.
Along her journey, Mathilda meets the Lowly Jester who had just been fired as the royal jester by Mathilda’s father, the king. The pair agree to travel together as they continue toward the palace. The pair also meet a mysterious young woman named Adelaide whom Mathilda becomes infatuated with after Adelaide saves them from a creature in the forest.
When Mathilda and the Jester reach the city, they find something neither of them expected, and Mathilda must find a way to save her family and Adelaide.
The show explores the meaning of friendship and feeling valued within relationships. The show also discusses LGBTQ+ love, sacrifice, and self-discovery all through the lens of a fairytale-inspired story.
“Mathilda! A One Act Play” is an entirely student-created project by Weber.
“It was actually something my friend and I were joking about,” Weber said. “She wanted to do a Shakespeare play, but I don’t like Shakespeare, so I decided to write something Renaissance-inspired. Mathilda was actually written in two or three days after that.”
Weber’s characters are loosely inspired by many people in her life.
“My life experiences helped me create real characters,” she said.
The show is a hallmark of classic fairytales which wasn’t actually Weber’s original intention.
“I don’t actually know how [the fairytale aspects] happened,” she said. “I think that writing a fairytale helped me write a narrative that wasn’t too real with characters that felt like real people. I wrote the characters as exaggerations of themselves and gave them real emotions.”
Since the show is original, the actors and directors took more creative liberties with the personalities and performances of the characters.
“We had a basis of what the characters should be like from what Hayley wrote,” co-director Plante said. “But we were also able to have creative freedom with what we thought about the actor’s choices. We gave the actors a lot of liberty to make the characters their own.”
Mariam Fostok was cast as Mathilda and tried to blend in a childlike excitement to her performance.
“Mathilda is a very cheery character,” Fostok said. “I imagined her as a little girl when she fell asleep, so I had to put on a little girl persona and get into the mindset of being a young girl. I watched a lot of child movies to get into the headspace.”
“She’s a little mean and immature and likes to tease people, but there is a part of me that likes her personality,” Fostok said. “She’s very optimistic about everything.”
Angelina Smith was cast as Adelaide, the mysterious criminal, and was drawn toward the character.
“I saw a lot of myself in Adelaide,” Smith said. “It was a really cool opportunity to play the character and blend my personality with the way Hayley wrote the character.”
Nathan Carter was cast as the Lowly Jester, which was not a role they were expecting to play.
“My process of creating a character is delving into the background of the character and discovering what I think the character has been through,” Carter said. “With an original character, it’s easier to blend yourself into their personality since there isn’t much framework for their character.”
Carter confessed that they like to use a high volume when performing some scenes to convey emotion. In this case, Carter explained, the Jester’s loud volume wasn’t just for the sake of being loud but was out of desperation and rage.
“It’s something we can all relate to in some sense,” they said. “All you need is a little empathy and understanding to perform a character. I don’t need to agree with a character’s actions, but it is easier to convey a character when you understand their motives for their actions.”
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