Interview with J.B. Barricklo
A Theater Arts Production of “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare will be presented on March 6 -8 and March 13-15 in Laurie Theatre. This week, JustArts&Culture spoke to Mr. Barricklo, the director of the production at the Brandeis Department of Theater Arts, about the coming events.
JustArts&Culture: What is your role in “The Tempest”?
JB Barricklo: My title is director of production for the Brandeis Department of Theater Arts, so really that means our department basically supports or produces all of the production elements of the show. Anything that’s not a performer on stage is somehow supported by our department. Traditionally that’s scenery, costumes, lighting, sound. Our department has someone professionally on staff to do one of those things in conjunction with professional designers and directors and students.
JAC: What can you tell me about the technical and scenic elements of “The Tempest”?
JB: I think the most exciting thing about “The Tempest” or one of the more exciting things about “The Tempest” in this go around is that the scenic designer of the show is a current Brandeis design student, Jacob Bers ’21. Usually Brandeis hires outside directors and designers, which is pretty wonderful. In this particular case, Jacob had done design classes here in the Theater Department and our faculty design teacher, Cameron Anderson, thought he was particularly talented or well suited to ... design the show. She acts as his supervisor and mentor on the project; I think he is doing this as his senior thesis. So that’s really exciting to essentially manifest and put his design which is really just on paper in a little model but sticking that writ large in a theater. Plus Jacob, as a student, gets to work with a professional director, a professional lighting designer, a professional costume designer, a professional sound designer — that’s pretty awesome for a student.
JAC: What is the biggest difference between working with students and working with professional designers?
JB: The learning curve. I know, if a designer is a professional designer, there is an expectation of experience that they’ll bring to the table. I’ll assume that they have a certain amount of experience. I’ll assume that they have a certain amount of knowledge of the practice of the craft of theater, how theaters operate and how work gets done in theater. One of the great things about doing theater at Brandeis is, although we have majors and minors, our productions certainly from an acting standpoint are open to all students. So in any cast of actors, you may have actors who are majors and maybe not majors but who have done a lot of theater before and you may also have students who have never done theater before, so they are really coming to the show from a real place of innocence almost. In addition to learning their lines and learning their parts, they are also learning about the whole process and business of theater. That’s the most exciting thing about working at a school: you get to participate in working in that learning experience of the student.
JAC: For “The Tempest,” is there anything particularly unique about the set of any of the other technical elements?
JB: The set is very striking. What’s unique about it is Jacob’s vision. I don’t want to speak for him. We are creating a sort of magical place for him. “The Tempest” takes place on a desert island — these folks are shipwrecked on an island — and so I think Jacob is envisioning a sort of wild and slightly scary dark island space in which the play takes place. I think anyone who comes to see the show will be surprised at the scale of the scenery. [The show] is in the Laurie Theater, the smaller of our two theaters, so I think they’ll be surprised at the scale of the set in what is typically thought of as a smaller theater.
JAC: What are you most excited to see in the upcoming tech week and/or the performances?
JB: I think what I’m most excited to see for this coming week is the actors being in the real scenery for the first time. To date, they have seen a model of the set and they’ve seen designs of the set, but they’ve been working in a blank rehearsal room that’s been spiked taped on the floor where all the scenic elements are. Tonight is really the first night and starting tomorrow with the set because it’s the first time that they will actually be in the three-dimensional environs of the set.
JAC: Is there anything else you want to add?
JB: I think, in particular, the theater department is really excited to work with this director — his name is Christopher Edwards. Christopher Edwards is the newly appointed artist director of the Actor’s Shakespeare Project in Boston. We’ve been trying to get him out here for a couple of years now to come and work for us. He has a very long history of directing Shakespeare, so we were really excited to get him here and have him work with students. I think it’s going to be a really terrific production because of his vision about the show and his ability to work with our students.