The drama of mathematics, duels, two different time periods and romance comes to life in Weber State University’s production of “Arcadia”.
Based in both 1809 and the present, “Acadia” follows Thomasina Coverly, 13-year-old mathematical and scientific genius and Hannah Jarvis, a modern day researcher and her academic friends. Switching back and forth from 1809 and present day, Coverly, with help from her tutor, Septimus Hodge, contemplates determinism and other academically advanced topics while Hannah Jarvis and her group of academic friends investigate Coverly’s home and it’s occupants.
“Inside a pastoral English manor, two driven academics try to determine whether a volatile mix of lust and poetry led to a duel there nearly 200 years earlier,” a press release about the production said. “Moving between the 19th century and the present, (Tom) Stoppard’s theatrical tour de force offers a compelling blend of logic, emotion, wit and heartache.”
For Professor Jennifer Kokai, director of “Arcadia,” doing this production was a fairly easy choice, due to its reputation and the writer of the play.
“This year, we chose all award- winning plays,” Kokai said. “This play won the Olivier, which is the British version of the Tony or Pulitzer. I also personally think that Tom Stoppard is very funny, witty and clever.”
While this play can come off as academically intimidating, Kokai said she believes that is one of the advantages of the show.
“I personally like plays that ask us to think about big ideas,” Kokai said. “For me, what is interesting about art is that it gives us opportunity to ask questions about life and what it means, and this play definitely does that, which is why I like it so much.”
Tanner Rampton, senior musical theater major and assistant director for “Acadia,” also explained that students shouldn’t be afraid of the production just because it contains academic themes.
“It has a lot of physics and math, but at the end of the day, it is about people and relationships, so I think there is something everybody will be able to latch onto,” Rampton said.
Theater arts major Scott Garner plays Septimus Hodge, Coverly’s tutor and friend. Garner said he felt playing Hodge was easy for him because he feels he can relate to Hodge. Garner described Hodge as a very smart and kind man, and the passion of the character is clear in Garner’s performance. While Garner feels that playing Hodge was easy for him, he still wanted to make the character perfect for the audience.
“It is a collaboration of what you imagine the character to be and the direction,” Garner said. “Jenny has been great about giving us a lot of freedom and not giving orders.”
Katie Jones, senior studying musical theater, plays Thomasina Coverly. At the beginning of the play, Coverly is a 13 year- old girl, and by the end, she is 16. Coverly is extremely intelligent, develops scientific theories and understands things that are usually hard for adults to understand. Jones feels that she has grown to love her character, and she hopes the audience will love Coverly too.
“I love how smart and intelligent she is, but she also has this huge personality that makes her so alive and relatable,” Jones said.
Kokai encouraged all students to attend “Acadia” because even though the play has strong math and science themes, she believes there’s something in the play for everyone.
“Arcadia” will be performed March 31 through April 4 in the Eccles Theater of the Val A. Browning Center. Tickets will be $12 for the general public and $10 for military, children and seniors.