THAD department prepares for “August: Osage County”

Allison Mueller

Ana Alexander/ Winonan

“August: Osage County” begins with a T.S. Eliot quote-filled monologue by Beverly Weston, as he hires Johnna Monevata to work around the house. His wife, Violet, stumbles down the stairs, high off of pills.

When the stage dims and lights illuminate the stage once more just moments later, Beverly has gone missing.

Beverly’s three daughters and sister-in-law all gather in his home along with their significant others and children, while the police search for him. The story follows each family member as they cope with the situation in their own way.

Past problems and memories resurface, adding to each character’s current crisis. The characters’ chaotic lives clash as they attempt to deal with their respective problems, and, as a result, surprising information is exposed at every turn. As the play unfolds, heartbreak, tragedy and numerous plot twists meld with surprisingly heartwarming and humorous moments.

The cast of “August: Osage County” has been working on the show for a while. Anthony Schliesman, the Assistant Stage Manager, commented on the duration of the rehearsals.

“This has been one of the longer rehearsal periods. Other shows we only have like a month and a half, and this one we’ve almost had three,” Schliesman said.

The cast and crew have also spent an exceptional amount of time rehearsing each week. Emma VanVactor-Lee, who plays Ivy Weston, commented on the amount of rehearsals that have been held each week.

“The rehearsal process has been pretty intense, honestly. We’ve been rehearsing from 6 to 9, Sunday through Friday since January. Granted, not everyone is called for the whole three hours, and not everyone is called every night, but it’s still been a long rehearsal process,” VanVactor-Lee said.

One of the challenges of putting together the production has been with blocking, the direction of actors’ movement on stage. The show features a three-story building as its major set piece. The crew has been working on the set through the entire rehearsal process. Directing actors on where they should be going while the set was being built posed a few difficulties.

Schliesman commented on the blocking while the set was still being built.

“We’ve had to tape out the set and where everything’s going to be. But then there’s a second level, a third level, and then we have to figure out where the actors are at any given time, what level they’re on. So definitely the blocking early on was interesting,” Schliesman said.

The design of the set gives the audience a picture of what’s going on with all of the characters. Because the set is constructed with three different levels, you can see characters interacting on the first floor at the same time as characters on the second or third floor.

The quirky characters are Schliesman’s favorite aspect of the production. He commented on the chaotic relationships and interactions between the characters.

“There’s a lot of unique characters in the show, and watching how they collide, how different characters end up reacting to different characters, how their problems react with different problems and it all just multiplies. It’s an interesting show,” Schliesman said.

VanVactor-Lee couldn’t put her finger on one part of the show she was most eager for audiences to see.

“I’m just excited for people to enjoy the whole experience. We have been working so hard and for so long that I am just incredibly proud of the whole production,”  she said. “I think people will definitely get their money’s worth with this production.”

“August: Osage County” will be performing in the Vivian Fusillo Theatre at 7 p.m. from Wednesday, April 15 until Saturday, April 18.