As a seasonal theatre production, the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS) presented their own rendition of “Gaslight,” a 1938 Victorian thriller originally written by Patrick Hamilton. As the title suggests, the play followed a mysterious story of gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation. “The entire production captivated a mysterious unraveling of events,” said Maddie Friedman, UWS Student.
The play was directed by Cathy Fank, the director of University theatre, supervisor of all theatrical affairs in the program area, and communicating arts teacher at UWS. Fank searched through her list of possible show productions and “re-discovered” the play. Fank and Sue Wedan, the technical director, designer, and communicating arts teacher, reviewed the script together. “The play is very different, but we both really liked the script,” said Fank. “I was a little concerned about the casting…three very strong and talented actors were needed, but [Wedan] and I decided to go ahead with it.”
With the help of many, the play was put together over an 18-week period. Rehearsals took place Monday-Friday from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. “The time get later and later as we get closer to performance. In the technical rehearsals, there is no day off for two weeks,” said Fank. Nick Gosen instrumented the lighting and sound, Wedan, along with her technical theatre class and five student workers, built the set, and seven actors all collaborated to make the production possible.
The resulting production featured a convincing, if somewhat spartan, set whose lighting design was able to dynamically reflect the fluctuating gaslight that is key to the play. The perfomance of Kitara Peterson’s Mrs. Manningham was able to keep the audience on edge about her possible actions whilst Kane Wilner’s Rough provided solid comic relief to the production.
After weeks of preparation and countless hours of practicing, the play ran for two consecutive weekends, Nov. 15-17 and 22-24 at the O. Gayle Manion Theatre. “I am very proud of the actors in the show. I am proud of how far they all came during rehearsals. They should all be very proud of themselves,” said Fank. “It’s a hard thing directing a play – I liken it to ‘birthing’ a play. All of the time, effort, love, and passion go into this thing and then it is ripped down and gone forever.”