July 25, 2009, marked the 100th anniversary of the first flight across the English Channel, made in a Bleriot XI monoplane. “Flight’s” major set piece is an exhaustively researched replica of the aircraft flown by many aviation pioneers. The director received construction help from the actors in the production, which save them a unique hands-on feeling for the courage required to fly one of the fragile wooden-and-canvas planes.
Other actors include graduates Jen Burry and Eric Bultman, undergraduate theater major William Shuler and guest Lee Fitzpatrick. Another MFA graduate, Brian Hanscom, is assistant director for the production.
“Flight” is the third in a trilogy of original plays that Pearson calls “riffs” on the works of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. In all three plays, Pearson uses a different Chekhov play as inspiration to create a new work. The first, “Balance,” was a reverie on Chekov’s “The Three Sisters.” The second, “Gravity,” used the play, “The Cherry Orchard,” as its jumping-off point. “Flight” references characters and themes from “The Seagull.”
“All of the plays involve work, allowing actors to do real physical work,” said Pearson of the trilogy, which he began in 1999. “I’m very interested in that. I’ve also been very interested in connecting the figurative and literal meanings of each of the plays’ titles — ‘Balance,’ ‘Gravity’ and ‘Flight.’ After I started working on ‘Balance,’ it wasn’t long before I realized that there should be three plays. Part of the decision had to do with the strong women in these three Chekhov plays, and Robyn was key to that element.”
For more information about “Flight” or the Center for Performance Experiment, contact Kevin Bush at 803-777-9353.