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The Northerner

Play ‘paves the way’

Amy Ehrnreiter

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Nathan Gabriel is a happy director. With a $1,200 grant, a crew of workers and two professional actors, in Gabriel’s own words, he “got very, very lucky.”

The 23-year-old is directing his sixth play, Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter,” for his senior thesis. The play consists of two men waiting in an abandoned room that receive unintelligible messages. The two men turn on one another, and the tension builds to an explosive climax.

“The Dumb Waiter is what is known as a ‘Comedy of Menace,’ a term that only applies to certain works written by Harold Pinter.” Gabriel said, “So what I am bringing to the NKU stage is a type of theatre that is not done very often…with professional actors and no charge for admission.”

The production is about servitude, Gabriel said, it’s not political – like many of the interpretations, but it is a “jab at religious doctrine.”

Gabriel read and fell in love with the play five years ago and has wanted to direct it ever since.

“I didn’t have the skill to do it until now, nor did I have the actors,” Gabriel said. Spending time in Washington D.C. as a directing assistant gave him the skill to work with professional actors, who he needed in order to make “The Dumb Waiter” successful.

After deciding on this play for his senior thesis, Gabriel applied for a grant to fund the production. He was provided with space, lighting, crew and technicians to work all of the equipment. “I can’t nail two planks of wood together, but I’m now going to have a professional set because I was able to utilize my resources,” Gabriel said.

Once he received the grant, Gabriel went straight to his theater advisor with the good news, and then told his family.

“My family, while being excited for me, nothing really fazes them,” Gabriel said, “They believe in me to the point where it’s almost like they aren’t surprised anymore when I do these things. They sort of expected it.”

“The Dumb Waiter” is the largest student production ever put on for the theatre department. So far, $1,400 has been contributed to it.

“I hope this paves the way for other students,” Gabriel said.

Along with directing the largest student production, he also paved the path for students in the Washington Center Program by being the first NKU artist to apply for the internship. Gabriel wants other students to be funded for professional work at the university.

“I think it is important to bring professional work to a university because that’s where students are going to be after they graduate, the professional world,” Gabriel said.

After graduating in December with a BFA in acting and directing, Gabriel plans on staying in the Cincinnati area. He called Cincinnati “a great town for arts.”

After working in the area for a couple years, he plans on branching out to other cities such as Chicago and Washington D.C., still claiming Cincinnati as home.

Gabriel has taken many things away from this experience. “I’ve learned in large part that a director can not just be an artistic mind in talking about what looks good or what sounds good on stage,” he said.

“He has to be organized. He has to know how to take care of the business end of things. He also has to be willing to do everything himself, because other people probably aren’t going do it just right.”

Gabriel said he’s invited and confirmed other directors attending the play. “I hope this will act as my introduction to the theater scene in Cincinnati,” he said. “There are people I’ve never met before coming to see something that I wrought from nothing, absolutely nothing. That will be real nice.”

The play will be in the Blackbox Theatre Nov. 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. The show is free for students and $5 for others.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Play ‘paves the way’