Dynamic backstage trio takes final bow

Professor of theatre Randy Barbara Kaplan along with seniors Kim Olsen and Rachel Prell have worked together on three productions in the past, but the group will end its Geneseo run after Hanoch Levin’s “The Lost Women of Troy,” an adaptation of Euripides’ “Hecuba” and “The Trojan Women.”

Director Kaplan and assistant director Olsen serve as co-choreographers for “Lost Women” while stage manager Prell oversees the technical responsibilities of recording the actors’ blocking and taking line notes.

Prell tries to avoid wasting time during rehearsals. As the stage manager, she keeps track of both paperwork and the actors themselves.

“Pretty much the entire cast remains on stage for the whole play,” she said. “It’s not like everyone’s present at the same time; different cast members come in at various times to go over their scenes, and I have to make sure that all runs smoothly.”

No stranger to technical theater and stage management, Prell is right at home with Olsen and Kaplan.

“We’re the core rehearsal team, and we stuck together,” she said.

Kaplan has directed Greek tragedy and culturally styled theater before, but for “Lost Women,” she’s changing it up a bit. The play follows Trojan women after the fall of Troy as they are taken prisoner by the Greek armies and allocated as commodities among the triumphant soldiers, but Kaplan hopes to avoid tying it down to these particular circumstances.

“I want [“Lost Women”] to be intercultural,” she said. “We’re going for a timeless effect, to comment on the abuse of women’s bodies during wartime.”

The choreography parallels the energy of traditional Greek tragedy, with expressive gestures and large movements. To help with this style of reaction, Kaplan introduced the cast to the grotesque, avant-garde form of Japanese dance called butoh.

“It’s a visualization of the insanity of our world. I know most will look at it and say ‘Hey, that’s so over-the-top and unrealistic,’ but that’s how it fits in with the ancient tragedy gestures, and it really has a great effect on the audience in that sense,” Kaplan said.

Despite the production’s bittersweet atmosphere, Kaplan remains optimistic.

“Just like there’s a trinity of women in the play, [Olsen and Prell] and myself are a trinity,” she said. “There’s no chain of command; it’s just a fluid triangle. And although I’ll be very sad, I feel like when this show closes I will have been successful in accomplishing my final job as teacher: the acknowledgement of my students going free.”

“Lost Women of Troy” will run from April 30-May 3 at 7:30 p.m. and May 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10.