An actor both on stage and on screen as well as a director and playwright, LMU theatre arts faculty member Carolyn Almos is also a founding member of Burglars of Hamm, a Los Angeles theatre company and playwriting collective.
Almos’ latest play, “Antinous,” is a part of the New Play Project and will be developed and performed by 11 LMU students as a staged reading. The production is directed by visiting clinical professor of acting and directing Dana Resnick, who is also dramaturg for “Antinous.” Resnick explored crucial questions during the rehearsal and writing process that helped Almos further develop the play.
“I’d love for it to be a fully-realized production. The thing about plays [is] it doesn’t feel like it’s done until it’s had a full production,” said Almos. The play takes place in both the ancient and contemporary world with two plots that don’t necessarily intersect. Almos was inspired to write the play after she heard the story of the Roman Emperor Hadrian on The History of Rome podcast. After grieving his male lover Antinous’ drowning in the Nile, Hadrian proceeded to have Antinous deified as a god. Almos also points out that, at this time in history, Antinous was rivaling the new Church of Jesus Christ for prominence.
Part of the play takes place in the ancient world with a group of Christians who are living in the town where Antinous drowned. The town is being taken over by the new Roman religion and the townspeople are in despair over whether Christianity will ever have an impact on the world. The modern portion of the play is a mix of a comedy and platonic love story between a youth pastor and a young man and focuses on their male friendship.
“Sometimes you don’t know if a scene works until you hear it out loud, and then you realize if it doesn’t work or actually has a certain rhythm,” said Almos.
Almos plans to use the staged reading as a way to receive feedback on her work, as she plans to do rewrites following the performances. “This process has been a joy, but honestly the most difficult thing is the writing. Anything you want the audience to know has to come out of the character’s behavior or what they say so that’s a subtle way to get information across to the audience, which can be hard to finesse,” said Almos.
The staged reading will be performed on Thursday, Dec. 4 and Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Barnelle Theatre. The hour and a half-long production will be followed by a Q&A session. The event is free, but seating is first come, first served.