Wigs Turn The Music On, a play by dramatic arts Master of Fine Arts candidates Lindsay Beamish and Amanda Vitiello-Jensen, begins with a Flo Rida song.
“Amanda wanted to use ‘Wild Ones’ by Flo Rida in something,” Beamish said. “I put the song on and told her to stand in front of a wall. I then gave her bizarre commands, which she acted out.”
The collaboration between Beamish and Vitiello-Jensen, which began as an assignment for class in the Department of Theater and Dance, quickly led to an 18-minute piece about captured pre-teen girls, played by the two. The play is put on through the Institute for Exploration in Theater, Dance and Performance (ITDP).
“We also play the man who kidnapped the girls,” Beamish said. “He’s never seen, as he lives behind the curtain and talks to us, but we also play him.”
The play is influenced by their childhoods and personalities, according to Vitiello-Jensen.
“A lot of the play was done through improv,” Beamish said. “The sky was really the limit in terms of our creativity.”
Part of this creativity manifested in the play’s language, which was developed through their improvisation.
“The language came about organically,” Beamish said. “I would make up commands, like ‘Bernard zipper,’ and she would just act them out.”
The play also incorporates references to the song “Wild Ones” as well as the Cleveland kidnapping case.
After the class ended, Beamish and Vitiello-Jensen decided to expand the piece. They applied for department support and received it from Peter Lichtenfels, a professor of Theatre and Dance, who had enjoyed the 18-minute piece.
“I had not seen anything like this piece,” Lichtenfels said. “I was taken by watching what happened on stage. It’s constantly transforming, it’s visually arresting and it is not sentimental. They’re performing for their captor but they’re not inhabiting the desire to do so.”
After receiving department support, Beamish and Vitiello-Jensen began to expand the piece.
“We’ve kept the original 18 minutes and have added more, including the concept of the girls escaping,” Vitiello-Jensen said.
Part of the challenge of the collaboration came from the different approaches that Vitiello-Jensen and Beamish use in regards to creative endeavours.
“When we started to work together we were trying to forge our two ways of working,” Vitiello-Jensen said. “I like to have some idea of what I’m doing while Lindsay prefers to have no idea at all.”
Beamish was surprised by the effectiveness of the collaboration, which she described as “great but weird.”
“I usually don’t collaborate well since I tend not to like other people’s ideas, but I felt like Amanda’s ideas were consistently great,” Beamish said.
Vitiello-Jensen also enjoyed working with Beamish, despite their different creative approaches.
“I felt like I wanted to learn from Lindsay,” Vitiello-Jensen said. “It was great but I was scared. It was like walking into a black hole and making something out of nothing. We ended up laughing our way through the process.”
Wigs Turn The Music On is rated R, and will be performed in Wright Hall Lab A, on Nov. 24, 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.