A preview into Mundelein Theatre’s Group Interpretation

Kayla Baltazar, News-Features/Opinion Editor

  One of seven productions that Mundelein Theatre puts on every year is Group Interpretation [GI]. Perhaps lesser known, GI is where students perform a 30-minute, competitive play. There are a lot of restrictions that come with GI as well, such as no lighting, costumes or props. 

  According to Senior Madeline Demuth, it is “theatre but stripped down to the barest bones.”

  This year, the show is named “The Old Man and The Moon” by the PigPen Theatre Co. The play is a folktale; a mythological story of an old man and how the moon came to be before it had phases.

  “This year’s production is ‘The Old Man and the Old Moon’, a folktale-style story of an Old Man whose job it is to keep the moon full of liquid light,” said Mark Landuyt, director. “When the Old Man’s wife leaves one night, the Old Man abandons his post in pursuit of his wife. This pursuit includes the Old Man impersonating a renowned war hero, navigating treacherous waters, and even escaping from inside the belly of a giant fish, all while the moon continues to lose its light.”

  Not only is GI challenging on its own, this year only two members of GI have done it before, so most of the cast is brand new to this.

  “GI has its fair share of challenges, but this year there are only two people in the cast who have done GI before so trying to learn as we go has been a struggle but that is fun about high school theatre,” Demuth said. “It is the best learning experience and having different opportunities for different types of theatre is great.”

  GI involves a lot of creativity from both the directors, as well as the cast. During rehearsals, while the cast is blocking the show, they have to develop their characters and make sure to keep the creative spirit up.

  “We start out by setting up the boxes and then dive into running the show. Blocking the show and working on character development takes up most of our rehearsal time,” said Group Interpretation Assistant Director Hayley Johnson. “Once everything is blocked, we run the show and fine-tune everything so the story makes sense.”

  Another challenge the cast faces is off stage focus. The actors aren’t allowed to look directly at each other while on stage, which can be challenging when doing a scene together. It’s a unique aspect of GI that helps differentiate it from a normal play MHS puts on. 

  “My favorite part of performing in GI compared to a normal play is the off stage focus,” Brady Rounds, freshman, said. “Off stage focus is when you are looking at the person off stage rather than on. This adds a new twist to acting and really makes you think more about facial expressions throughout the show.”

  Not only does GI work on this play to entertain, they also have their eyes set on the state competition. GI will compete first at sectionals, then hopefully qualify for state.

  “We hope to compete in State this year,” said Johnson. “I think we have a fantastic story to tell, so I hope sectionals on March 18th goes well.”

  In order to do well,  the GI group hopes to cultivate the story and make sure they’re effectively portraying it to the audience.

  “GI is all about stage pictures and using the actors to create the setting. For example, you could go from being the character you play to being the gills of a giant fish,” Demuth explained. “It is such a collaborative process and there is a lot of troubleshooting and working through parts to make sure we are effectively communicating what we want to the audience.”

  While doing well at competitions is a big goal for GI, their top priority is to make sure their story is something that they are proud of and happy with. 

  “First and foremost, we want to tell a story we’re proud to tell.  It is a story with beautiful characters and moments, and we hope the audience feels that throughout the production,” said Landuyt. “Of course, we hope that our performance does well competitively and qualifies for state and beyond, but our focus is always story first.”