Ghosts at Bosworth Field
Fight at Bosworth Field
Webcast: Friday, Nov. 16 – 8 p.m. EST
Join us as we present the first ever webcast of a Classic Players’ production—Richard III: The Terrible Reign.
Director Jeffrey Stegall’s Victorian-futuristic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III explores the destructive consequences of Richard’s uninhibited ambition as he grapples with the ghosts of his bloody campaign—a campaign that will ultimately bring about his own demise.
The Challenge of a Webcast
Being the first Classic Players’ production to be webcast, Richard III: The Terrible Reign presents a unique set of technical challenges.
Video director Dan Boone, who will be overseeing the recording of the webcast, says the biggest challenge is getting the camera exposure just right. Whereas the human eye easily adjusts to the darker setting in this play, cameras often require more specialized lighting to capture comparable image clarity.
With the set in gloss-black, the actors in dark costumes, and a majority of the lighting from the side of the stage, Dan says it’s very easy for the cameras to catch a glare or overexpose or underexpose the image.
Despite the challenges it presents, recording a performance live actually simplifies the overall task of the camera crews when compared to recording a film.
The camera crews must simply record the action on stage without worrying about setting up lights for each shot or recording multiple takes. Thankfully for them, most of the action in Richard III: The Terrible Reign takes place in a 20-foot strip on the forestage, making Ricahrd III a relatively straightforward production to shoot.
The plan is to use multiple cameras placed centrally in the auditorium. To ensure the cameras capture all of the action, wider shots of scenes will be used to account for extra steps or unexpected moves by actors. Overseeing the entire recording, Dan Boone will be carefully monitoring a script and relaying critical information to his camera crews about what to expect next.
For the actors, it’s still business as usual. However, during rehearsals Jeffrey Stegall had pylons set up offstage to mark where cameras would be during the performance. When actors had a monologue or significant role on stage, they used these visual references to help them stay in a place where all three of the cameras would be able to see them without any obstructions from other actors or props.
From two to four
Seeing the success of last year’s webcast of the Joyce Yang concert, Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, decided to expand the number of fine arts programs that BJU makes available online from two to four.
“I wanted to feature one of our plays for variety,” he says. “We have a long and successful history with our Classic Players productions, and it just made sense to use one of these productions for a special webcast.”
The freshness of Jeffrey Stegall’s adaptation also made Richard III: The Terrible Reign an especially inviting choice for a first Classic Players’ webcast. “I chose Richard III because it’s a brand new production with newly designed sets and costumes,” Dr. Lawson says. “The concept designs and adaptation by Jeffrey Stegall work very well to make the play accessible for today’s audience.”
Connecting and Reconnecting
With more than 3,000 people tuning in to last year’s concert webcast, there are high hopes that Richard III: The Terrible Reign will have a similarly sized or larger online audience.
Jeffrey Stegall is already hearing from many alumni who previously were a part of a production of Richard III. “I’ve already reconnected with some graduates on my blog,” Jeffrey says. “I think the production is going to be a great tool for reuniting some of our graduates from 10 or 20 years ago.”
In addition to reconnecting with alumni, webcasting is also a great way to connect with the community and prospective students and their families.
Dr. Lawson especially hopes that young people interested in drama will tune in to the webcast. “We hope many prospective students interested in theater will join us for this special webcast and then consider developing their talents for God’s glory here at BJU.”
Preview Performance for Secondary Students
Pre-performance Film — 6 p.m.
Play Performance — 7 p.m.
This special preview performance is open to secondary students and their sponsors.
An informative “Meet the Director” film will be shown prior to the performance. This film will enhance the audience members’ experience by educating them about the performance.
Please meet in the lobby of Rodeheaver Auditorium no later than 6 p.m. for the film. Doors for general admission to the performance will open at 6:40 p.m.
Tickets are required and may be purchased at the Programs & Productions box office for $5 for students. Call (864) 770-1372 for information.
The War of the Roses is over. England is at peace. And no one is safe.
Nothing will stop the ambitious Richard in his murderous rise to power. It’s in these troubled and intriguing times that this year’s Classic Players present a Victorian-futuristic interpretation of Shakespeare’s history, Richard III.
Director Jeffrey Stegall, a communication faculty member, based this unique interpretation and style on the script itself. “I was surprised at how some of the 15th-century lines seemed futuristic,” he says. “There’s a simpleness to it.”
From stark light bulb fixtures to shiny, black surfaces to minimal furniture, the set reflects this simple approach. Coupled with some blood-red lighting, the set becomes reminiscent of a morgue or a Victorian slaughterhouse. And just like the slaughterhouse—where the bloody evidence of slaughtering animals can easily be washed away—the set is a place where Richard tries to wash away the evidence of his murderous work.
Jeffrey wanted to provide the audience with a metaphor and visible reminder of Richard’s oppression. He decided to do something that has never been tried before at BJU—a real rain effect on Rodeheaver stage. “I felt like the concept of rain as a metaphor was just what I’ve waited for,” he says. “I saw it rain on Broadway 10 or 12 years ago and ever since then I’ve wanted to make it rain.”
But having a rain effect on stage is no small feat. The production crew has had to engineer a rain machine, which consists of a pipe that sprays water up against a gabled roof to create rain patterns that look natural. As the rain falls on stage, a gutter system then collects the water and directs it off stage.
The rain presents another challenge—wet costumes. At one point in the play, Richard and Richmond duel in the rain, and drying their costumes between each of the four performances over the week would be a real challenge.
Coincidentally, in his search for futuristic-looking costumes, Jeffrey decided to use a fabric called neoprene, which happens to be the same fabric traditionally used in diving wetsuits. Not only does this fabric aid in quick drying, but it also matches the futuristic style of the play.
Along with neoprene, Jeffrey also combined metal buckles and studs to give his characters a style that mimics the worlds of 1940s comic strip heroes and matches the futuristic-slaughterhouse motif of the set.
Nowhere is the style more evident than with Richard III himself. Traditionally Richard is portrayed with a hunchback to clearly symbolize his inward deformity, but Jeffrey wanted instead to give Richard a stylish metal-studded leg brace and a bodysuit that mimics scoliosis, where unnatural twisting of the spine causes one shoulder to be higher than the other. “We’re taking a little bit more subtle approach to it, instead of just a big hump on the back,” he says.
Outwardly, Richard is clean and professional, but inwardly he’s full of unrestrained ambition. The strange irony is that “Richard can be a little likeable,” says Jeffrey. “He’s a bit of a jokester.”
In many ways, Richard is like the image of the whited sepulchre—outwardly pleasant, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones. His rise to power and ultimate downfall, as traced in The Terrible Reign, stands as a cautionary example of the dangers and consequences of unbridled ambition.
This year’s production of Richard III will be the 8th in BJU’s history, and it will be one you won’t want to miss. Jeffrey is especially excited about the talent of this year’s cast.
Ron Pyle, who plays Richard, has more than 35 years of experience of performing; “and then you think of Mrs. Jones, who was in the Classic Players in 1957,” Jeffrey says. “We’re going to have some amazing performances!”
The student cast members are looking forward to this year’s production, too. For speech pedagogy major Anna Brown, “one of the most exciting parts of acting in Richard III is that I have the opportunity to be part of a brand new production,” she says. “I feel as though I am getting the chance to bring my character to life for the first time on stage.”
For sophomore dramatic production major Megan Ingersoll, understudy to Mrs. Beneth Jones, it has been a wonderful experience to watch and learn from veteran actors such as Dr. Darren Lawson, Mr. Ron Pyle and Mrs. Coretta Grass. She says that “the show is going to be, I think, one of the best we've ever seen here at BJU.”