Loot: The Director’s Cut

Lock your money away and keep an eye on your wallets. The Northern Kentucky University Department of Theatre and Dance opens its theater season with “Loot,” a play about two young thieves facing a crisis involving a police inspector, a coffin, a body, a questionable nurse and loot.

“Loot” is a two-act play written by British playwright Joe Orton in 1965. The play has seen many productions over the years, and now it’s NKU’s turn. The play explores issues that are still being faced by society today.

“He’s really tackling things like police brutality, the abuse of citizens by authority and authority figures, hypocrisy in the catholic church, and very fluid sexual roles, open sexuality,” said Mark Hardy, director of “Loot.” “The codes of establishment behavior, what’s acceptable and what’s not. In ‘Loot’ specifically, he deals a lot with our fears of death, because the play takes place around a woman’s funeral. The corpse is one of the most used props in the play.”

Hardy, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at NKU, got the opportunity to direct the production. During a three-week rehearsal period, Hardy took the cast through the steps of bringing the play to the stage, which involved reading the script and open discussion, working on the dialect, and finally stage set-up and making the roles their own.

“The way I like to work, particularly when there’s limited time like this, is I give the actors a fairly organized structure in terms of staging and once that’s pretty clean, then I encourage them to mess it up, to find better choices, or more organic choices for them,” Hardy said.

In order to be cast in “Loot,” there were two things that were taken into consideration.

“I was looking for people who had a sense of the style of the play, who seemed to understand the style. And farce is very different from most other things we work on,” Hardy said. “And the other thing was that I wanted to make sure that everyone I cast found the play very funny. I knew that it couldn’t work if all six people didn’t find the play very, very funny.”

Some of the material dealt with in “Loot” is provocative and may be deemed as shocking by some audience-goers. Through the use of laughter, Orton brings these issues to the forefront.

“In his opinion laughter was a stronger weapon than tragedy in terms of waking people up,” Hardy said. “He felt that if you can get them laughing they might actually start to listen or might become aware that perhaps they’re laughing at themselves.”

Hardy believes that theater is an important part of a successful society. It has been present since the first hunter related his daily kill around the camp fire.
“I think it’s like medicine,” Hardy said. “I think plays are very good at putting issues in front of people in a way that makes them step back and question their own positions and their own opinions.”

Because of the nature of theater and the fact that it is live, audiences can share a common experience.

“When a whole audience is breathing together and breathing with the performers and experiencing something similar, its transporting,” Hardy said. “You feel lifted up by it and you feel unified by it.”

While on stage those involved in the theater are living in the moment, taking what comes their way. According to Hardy it is in those moments of chaos where an actor thrives.
“It’s the greatest drug in the world, because you feel so alive when you’re doing it,” Hardy said.

This theater season promises to be a full one with seven productions scheduled for the 2010/2011 school year. General admission is $13 for adults, $12 for faculty/staff/alumni, $10 for seniors and $8 for students with any valid student ID. Tickets can be purchased through the NKU theater box office, located at the Corbett Theatre Lobby.

”Loot” runs from Sept. 23 through Oct. 3. Information about NKU’s other productions and show times can be accessed by calling the box office at: 859-572-5464, or online at: http://theatre.nku.edu/boxoffice.

Story by Shawn Buckenmeyer