Great Lakes Theater brought “Seven Ages” to life at LCCC on Feb. 12. Seven Ages are seven individual tales by Northeast Ohio playwrights, Nina Domingue, Mike Geither, Christine Howey, David Hansen, Anne McEvoy, Michael Oatman and Toni K. Thayer. In the studio theatre of the Stocker Arts Center, eight panels display Maxfield Parrish artwork, creating a vibrant wooded setting where these tales take place, all inside a tree. Here we meet four characters from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
With blue and green luggage used for props, our characters gather while waiting for a storm to pass. Using a traditional storytelling genre, the characters pass the time, entertaining one another with stories. During a tale, one character returns in a modern school girl outfit and begins taking “selfies” on her phone. This introduces a clever thought, whether storytelling has started to lose its appeal with the event of smart phones and tablets.
The Great Lakes Theatre uses limited props while on tour. This allows them a creative freedom as well as a challenge to do more with less. One example is a cloak which is used in several different ways; it becomes a skirt, a blanket, a head scarf. It appears as if the characters have a hidden chest, abounding with various props when in reality, there are only a few being used to great variety and advantage.
The set is another example of making a little go a long way. It is simple and portable. The panels are designed to also serve as a dressing screen so the actors can quickly change their appearance while on stage. The importance of keeping things simple and limited becomes obvious when one discovers how often the cast and crew must set up and take down their sets. The tour is free and they will visit nearly two dozen neighborhood venues in the life of one play.
Director, Lisa Ortenzi, conducts a Q and A with the audience at the end of the production. She explores with the crowd how they feel technology has impacted storytelling. Some audience members believe technology has enhanced storytelling through blogs and posts. People still want to find ways to relate to each other. “Seven Ages” helps remind everyone that human interaction is not lost, and that storytelling is an art that (remains alive and well) transcends the medium.