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Black box offers double the fun for CELEBRATE!

by Carolyn VanBrocklin,

CELEBRATE! Week offers a variety of academic and artistic events for the Elon community to experience, including the annual Black Box Festival.

This year, two productions are being staged: "Edges," written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and "Mother Courage and Her Children," written by Bertolt Brecht.

"Edges" is a song-cycle about the journey of life and path to finding one's self.

"We are all representing the concept of growing up, relationships and worries after college graduation through different songs," said junior cast member Alexa Wildish.

Playwrights Pasek and Paul are two recently graduated Michigan University alums. "Edges" went through many revisions until they achieved the final product. But Elon students won't be seeing the play as its creators imagined it.

"This year, we put our own spin on 'Edges,' with the permission of the authors, of course," said Lynne Formato, director, choreographer and class instructor.

This way, the show is basically a new production.

Formato combined pieces of the different existing versions to create an entirely new version of "Edges." She also increased the cast to include 16 members, when it usually includes about four.

The students involved in the performance were treated to a visit from Pasek and Paul. They provided the students with an invaluable opportunity to understand why the play was written.

"It's just an amazing experience for students to intersect with people actually working in New York," Formato said.

One of the challenges producing "Edges" was the fact that it's produced in a workshop or a "poor man's theater."

In other words, the students and Formato are entirely responsible for each aspect of preparation, from acquiring props to putting the program together. All the work is time well spent, when they consider the overall effect of the piece.

"These are songs that deal with personal relationships, personal qualities and situations that you would deal with yourself, and it is meant for a wide audience," sophomore cast member Sabrina Bradley said. "People who come see it will be able to relate to these songs."

The second show performed this week, "Mother Courage and Her Children," is an entirely student produced play.

Junior theatre major Sarah Pace directs the cast and crew. The play is considered one of the most successful anti-war pieces of all time, telling the story of a mother torn between protecting her children from WWII and making a profit from the conflict.