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'In the Blood' thrills audience

By Van Ly, staff writer
On April 8, 2014

  • Hester (left), played by Audrey Webb, reacts to information that she may be pregnant that she receives from the Doctor (Nick Wong) during a physical examination during “In The Blood,” which ran from March 12-15 in the Knox Center. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate
  • Hester’s children (left to right) Irena Miles, Julia Bourney and Charmain Turner hold each other for comfort during the play “In the Blood” which ran from March 12-15 in the Knox Center. Janae Harris / The Advocate
  • Hester (Audrey Webb) experiences pain and shock due to an unintentional decision that leads to an eventful climax during the “In The Blood” which ran from March 12-15 in the Knox Center. Janae Harris / The Advocate
  • Hester (Audrey Webb) yells at her children after they persist on asking questions about their father during the “In the Blood” held in the Knox Center from March 12-15. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

The drama department's production of "In the Blood" was presented at the Knox Center on March 12.
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks, "In the Blood" is a modern adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel "The Scarlet Letter." The play follows the lives of Hester La Negrita and her five fatherless children who are living in poverty. Drama professor Tyrone Davis directed the play.
When the lights hit the stage, cast members of "In the Blood" stood echoing back and forth jarring statements about Hester.
The moment the cast finished, the set faded to black. Audrey Webb, who plays Hester, emerged from the darkness and stood cradling her baby - her eyes gleaming at the precious treasure in her arms.
In the eyes of society, Hester is no treasure. She is considered a promiscuous woman which society looks down upon.
Under the spotlight, the Doctor (Nick Wong), Reverend D. (Terry Tracy), Amiga Gringa (Elena Battas), Welfhare (Kat Welton) and Chili (Rex Marin) reveal their sexual encounters with Hester but show no remorse in their actions when all they do is pretend to help her.
Webb gave a remarkably moving performance as Hester.
She captured Hester's endearing personality by expressing a certain naive hopefulness as well as her enduring determination to support her children.
She also builds up Hester's struggle to overcome poverty in a way that it becomes absolutely heartbreaking to watch when her character meet a tragic end.
Another performer, Johnny Manibusan, played Hester's 13-year-old son Jabber. Manibusan's character was charged with energy and full of childlike spirit, making his performance enjoyable to watch.
The other actors also brought unique qualities to their characters, adding depth and life to the play to reflect on issues such as poverty in society.
Costumes were fitting to the characters of "In the Blood." One interesting costume was the Doctor's (Wong) who wore cardboard to carry his medical equipment.
The set design was simple with bleak neutral colors in the background. A grey platform was on stage with the word "slut" scrawled on the side of the platform. To the left of the stage was a small building with a curtain as the door where Hester and her children slept in.
Not much emphasis was placed on the set. The only thing that distinguished certain places was when the white cross was on the wall to indicate Reverend D.'s church.
For lighting, a white glaring spotlight was used during active scenes and the scenes in which actors were transitioning, the lights would fade to black.
Toward the end, the lights took the form of bars in a jail cell, creating a nice effect to the set, but the added red light was a bit too bright.
Student Imani Canady said that she thought the red lights represented blood, but it was hard to tell what the red lights were supposed to symbolize.
Aside from the set and lighting, the actor's performances left a memorable impression on the audience.
Tiarra Hearne, an African-American studies major, said the actors did a great job on the performances and that it was moving to watch.
"I found myself crying when the play ended," history major Daniele Asher said.
Davis and the ensemble of "In the Blood" captured society's effect on Hester, focusing on issues of poverty and oppression to send profound insights about today's society.
With great impact, the messages in the play are worth treasuring.

By Van Ly

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