Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight (Jan 12-Feb 3, 2018) was a surprise hit about a little known French Physicist. But it was also a very human story of love, human connection, our need to have our work recognized, and fighting for our rightful place at the table.
Krista Schafer Ewbank won a Wilde Award for Best Lead Actress in a play for the title role.
Some memories from the team:
Emilie was the first full length professional show I directed. Like any enthusiastic director, I came in with about a thousand ideas and if Harley hadn’t talked me down it would have been a sensory overload. What I loved most was the willingness of the creative team and cast to collaborate and challenge themselves. Some good memories are: Geri’s beautifully choreographed dances and how reluctant at first Jon was to throw Caitlin around, but how that transformed into one of the most powerful moments of the show, Pat playing the guitar, that enormous chalkboard and poor Jill who had to clean it every night, the gorgeous moment when Krista was alone on stage after seeing Jon and Caitlin dance, and the rawness of that moment. This play will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m thankful for the chance to have worked on it. – Sarah Hawkins, director
My first show at Open Book created a lot of fun challenges. Figuring out what to do with the concrete floor and the hole for the safe proved especially tricky. I wasn’t about to leave flats unsecured to the floor or a tripping hazard for the cast, so strategically placing a sort of gaff tape net over that opening helped, and the use of masonry screws coupled with a very powerful drill helped me keep the flats in place. Emilie also lent me a great chance to play with floor painting. – Eric Niece, scenic designer
Emilie was a fabulous show with an incredible cast. It was very challenging because there as a lot of quick changes for actors to transition to other characters. Early on Director Sarah Hawkins decided for the actors to have a base costume and then mix and match other pieces to create transformations. Caitlin Morrison had five different changes, I believe, and did it without a hitch. Her wedding attire was made from a redesigned vintage dress and had huge impact when she came in set. Krista Schafer Ewbank’s dress was created using a 80’s suit coat and curtains. I had a hat maker friend, Rachelle Willnus, create the Patrick Loos feathered hat for the fop character. My most proud moment was his hand painted shoes- since I couldn’t find heeled, decorative, lace shoes for a man I designed them. – Cheryl Zemke, costume designer
What I remember about Emilie is the way it felt everyone was working toward the same goal. There was an air of discovery and determination. Not unlike the heroine of the story. It was a visually beautiful show as well, that first light cue that came up we would all sit back stage and watch and sing Harley’s praises, Cheryl’s costumes, Eric’s set…really the whole team. The game nights were epic. It was just one of those casts that bonded in that way, and enjoyed each other on and off stage. They are not all like that. This one was for sure and I think it helped the final product. – Patrick Loos
I remember sharing anxiety before we opened. We really didn’t know what we had because we were too close to it to be objective. At least some of us had no idea if audiences would connect with this smart and stylistic kind of show. I don’t think any of us knew exactly how much people would love this show. This was not the show I expected to break our attendance records, but I’m so glad it did. This show really deserved an audience, and it got a good one. In the end, what we really want is for people to see our best work, and we got to do that. – Harley Miah, lighting designer
Oh Emile. This play was so fun to do and was so stressful to rehearse. I remember in the weeks leading to it I had many a moment where I thought to myself, “Am in a bad play?” Lol. I created a grid to keep track of all the entrances, costume changes, and props. The dances were such a process, they started so ugly and I truly wondered if we would be able to pull them off. Finally, we opened and it all came together into this beautiful piece of theatre that the audience really connected to. We were really good about covering and caring for each other while out there. The night the glass broke, we cleaned it up completely in character. (Special shout out to Patrick Loos who found the period appropriate broom and pan) – Caitlin Morrison
I look back and I realize how much of an impact Emilie played on my life as a professional actor. It was the first non-musically scripted, professional show that I had ever taken part in. I didn’t realize at the time just how lucky I was to be working alongside the plethora of talent in that group. The creativity that lives within Open Book’s walls is always vast, but that team specifically set a precedent for me going forward. I have distinct memories of all of the tape ball matches, and the laughs back stage, but what I remember most clearly is that fricken Newton wig. Long may she reign. – Matt Wallace
Emilie was my first show at Open Book. From the moment I met Krista I knew I was walking into a special safe creative home. When I met Sarah we just clicked right away. Every rehearsal felt important and creative. On tech when I was running the lights and sound for the first time I had chills. There was a moment in the show right when Emile kicks out Voltaire that I had to watch every single night, the heart break of that scene was so real. I did not want this show to end. I did make Krista promise no more chalkboards! – Jillian Joie Dahl, stage manager
Emilie was my first show at Open Book. It was the first time I worked with a professional cast. The first time it was ALL adults and the first time I worked for a theatre other than Warren Civic. Being brought on and trusted so much by Sarah. There was never a moment I felt like a stranger in the group. It was worth every moment to work with people who openly embraced the ideas and visions that the entire creative team held. – Geri Conner, movement director
By Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Sarah Hawkins. Featuring Krista Schafer Ewbank as Emilie and Jonathan Davidson as Voltaire. With Caitlin Morrison, Patrick Loos, Cynthia Szczesny, and Matthew Wallace. Costumes by Cheryl Zemke, Set by Eric Niece, Lights by Harley Miah, movement by Geri Conner. Stage Managed by Jillian Joie Dahl.