How much can a person change without his loved ones noticing — and helping? MTSU Theatre students are premiering a new adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novella to address that question Feb. 23-26 in their production of “Kafka’s Metamorphosis” in Tucker Theatre.
Advance tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for K-12 students and senior citizens 55 and older and are available at www.mtsuarts.com. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 23-25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.
Tickets also are available at the Tucker Theatre box office one hour before curtain times.
MTSU theatre professor Halena Kays drew on her friendship with playwright Steve Moulds, a Louisville, Kentucky, resident who’s currently serving as playwright-in-residence at Vanderbilt University, to direct his new adaptation of the 1915 tale. You can see a preview above.
“It’s a remarkable and very strange novella where a man wakes up and he’s a grotesque insect,” Kays says. “The story is so internal of what’s going on with this person, and people have written endlessly about what that might symbolize and what the metaphors around it might be.
“Our ensemble has found ways to identify with it and make it very human, no pun intended, … and to allow it not only to be a sort of visual feast and an exciting and unique way of storytelling but also to find a lot of emotion and honesty in the moments.
“There are a lot of bold design choices in our production, and the actors have matched that with bold choices and with a lot of humanity, so I’m really excited to be able to share it with our audiences,” the professor adds.
Senior theatre major Joshua Jackson of Antioch, Tennessee, who made his mark his freshman year with a show-stopping turn as the wicked “Brother Boxer” in the 2014 MTSU Theatre production of “Amen Corner,” is Kafka’s Gregor, the changing young man in the three-piece plaid bespoke suit.
Make that a four-piece suit.
“Even though we’re told that he’s human, I didn’t know how much ‘human’ the costume was going to be,” Jackson explains. “I love the suit, but I was expecting more bug-like features for the costume. Now I really like the choice. … I want people to have a personal viewpoint of the ‘bug,’ to view me as a metaphor for something else in your life.”
After scurrying around on all fours to rehearse a scene, he points to the plaid fabric carapace on his back. “This thing is great,” he chortles, dusting off his hands and knees. “It’s my new best friend.”
Fellow senior Delaney Keith of Knoxville, whose MTSU career has included roles as “La Cage Aux Folles” ingénue Anne and a trifecta of characters in the original MTSU production “Walking in Sunlight: The Legacy of Uncle Dave Macon,” is playing triple duty in “Metamorphosis” as “Woman with Fur,” “The Boss/Office Manager” and “Third Boarder.”
“I never thought that in my last show at MTSU, I’d be a fat man in the beginning, then this woman in this awesome costume,” Keith says, pointing at her furs and brocade, “and then, at the end, a man with a huge beard. I go on and come off stage as totally different people, and that’s been an interesting challenge.
“Even though a lot of sad things happen in this show, there’s a level of absurdity that’s pretty delightful.”
Kays says her Kafka cast is as diverse as the roles they play. “There’s a lot of blurring lines of gender and race throughout the play, and I think that creates a really fantastic universe for people to enjoy.
“I always aim to create a theatrical experience or event for the audience so you’re not just sitting back and observing, but that you feel a part of what’s happening,” the professor says. “We’re inviting you into this strange world that parallels our world in some ways. Even though the story itself is morose and strange, there are human elements in it and humor that are going to be really fun to watch.”
For more information about the show, visit www.mtsuarts.com.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)