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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Winer unveils Pinter’s Betrayal

Published: November 17, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Earlier this week, Allie Winer 08, director of the Hillel Theater Groups production of Harold Pinters Betrayal, was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to The Hoot.

Hoot: What initially drew you to Betrayal as a show you would want to direct?

Allie Winer: I read Betrayal in a class last year. Probably the most intriguing thing about it is its structure, because it moves backwards;

it starts at the end and works its way back to the beginning. The audience gets betrayed by this in a way because theyre told something, then it goes back in time and they find out that thats not the truth. It is a really interesting show. It is like nothing that has been done at Brandeis recently and it provides really unique challenges. For me as a director, the chance to work with the time thing, the chance to work with such a small cast, thats what really drew me to the show.

Hoot: Excluding the obvious answer, what is Betrayal about? What should we expect to see when we come see the production?

AW: The very consolidated version, the stock answer that Ive been giving everybody, is that Betrayal is about an affair between a married woman and her husbands best friend, and it moves backwards. More articulately, its about three people caught in a web of being the betrayer and being the betrayed.

Hoot: This is a very small cast show, so your actors must be working very hard. Would you care to talk about them for a moment?

AW: My cast is great because we have a huge range of experience, a huge range of age. One of the leads is a senior, one of them is a first-year, and one of them is a sophomore. Its been a really interesting dynamic because they didnt know each other beforehand, but theyve been working and have developed a really great dynamic. We have a lot of fun in rehearsals. Theyre hilarious and keep me laughing constantly, but they also have a great work ethic. They put so much effort into the show, so much time. They come up with these amazing things;

its really been a collaborative effort. Theyve just been an absolute pleasure to work with. I couldnt have asked for a better experience.

Hoot: How are you and your staff approaching the show from a design standpoint?

AW: From a design standpoint, the first thing that I got in my head when I was looking at this show was a circle. That image was really strong for me. Then, because of the time element, clocks and those sorts of things. There are also a lot of different sets, a lot of different places that the show takes place, so we had to figure out how to make the time clear to the audience. For the circular image, were having revolving sets on turntables that can make the scene changes really simple and really easy. We were able to make it so that each of the two characters that Emma, the woman, is between, her husband and her lover, has a side and there are very clear color patterns for each character. We sort of drew it all together using those colors, those ideas, and a lot of symbolic things.

Hoot: Would you like to talk a little about challenges youve encountered working on this show?

AW: We had to share Sam [Levor 07] with The Laramie Project, so it was hard getting the rehearsal time, getting the quality, because when you have such a small cast show its really important that everybody is there. Another big thing is that the show is British, so I decided that, because thats the way its written and thats what the language is, I really wanted to do it with accents. I wanted to do it in London and really capture what that is as well as I could from an American perspective. Working on the accents, trying to make them believable, trying to make them something that is not distracting and is part of the world that Im creating, was definitely a challenge. Also, the time thing. We blocked the show and rehearsed the first couple weeks in chronological order so that we could really develop the story of it and then strip it down. Then we started doing in the order of the show, started figuring out, Okay, this is where you are now. Theyve gone through the process of building up the characters, now its about trying to figure out how to go the other way. For example, Emma and Jerry need to go from the scene where they decide to end the affair to a scene which is the two of them when theyre really happy. Normally, in a show that moves chronologically, all the experiences end up adding on, and thats a much easier thing for an actor than trying to take away the experiences. That has definitely been a big challenge, but theyve really risen to it.

Hoot: Are there any shows youve seen on campus and especially enjoyed or any upcoming shows youre looking forward to?

AW: Ive seen everything on campus so far this semester. I love going to see theatre, so I make sure that I see everything I can. The Laramie Project was probably the one that I enjoyed the most. I actually did that show in high school and they took a really unique approach to it here, it was really interesting and intriguing to watch. Seussical was really fun, I just went to see that this weekend. The Goat was great and of course Im excited to see the Boris Kitchen Sketch Comedy Festival, which features one of my actresses, so everyone should go out and see that as well the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Hoot: And quickly, please give us the vital informationdates, times, tickets, location.

AW: We have performances Thursday, Nov. 16 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available in Usdan during lunch on Friday, they are $5 in advance and $6 at the door, and the show is in the Shapiro Theater.