In Masque & Gown’s December 8 and 9 performances of “The Antipodes,” the cast and crew posed a number of thought-provoking questions: How many types of stories exist in the world? Will we ever run out of stories? “The Antipodes” marks Masque & Gown’s first show in Wish Theater after over two years of virtual performances. Annie Baker’s play, which interrogates the value of storytelling and executing the vision of director Ben Allen ’23.
At its core, the play is about a group of people sitting around and telling stories, attempting to devise the “perfect story” while the world appears to be in a state of chaos around them. The proposed stories differ greatly—some are funny; some tragic; some magical—though they are all based in the same emotional intensity.
“You’re supposed to laugh; you’re supposed to feel disgusted,” actor Wilder Short ’22 said. “I think [the play] does a great job of showcasing different emotions, and at the same time, it shows how storytelling really is essential to connecting with the human experience.”
“The Antipodes” was initially scheduled for the first week of November, but, after the performance was delayed, the cast and crew had to experiment with methods to keep the play feeling new.
“Because the script is so simple, it’s been a little challenging figuring out how to guide these people and find new ways to tell the same story that you’ve been telling for months,” Allen said.
The later date, however, added excitement for some, such as stage manager Sinclaire Ledahl ’23.
“I think it’s been kind of a secret that we’ve been working on it for such a long time,” added Ledahl. “I really hope that people can see and pick up on all the work that has been put into it.”
The entire cast and crew have been looking forward to the return to in-person theater after spending the past three semesters on Zoom.
“Honestly, it’s just been a relief to be back in person,” Short said. “The energy of being in a room with other actors is phenomenal.”
By collaborating in person, the cast of ten created close relationships and a dynamic community of members of differing class years—students who might otherwise have not met.
In addition to being in the presence of other actors, this production also saw the return of an in-person audience to Wish Theater in particular. Allen shared that, in choosing “The Antipodes,” he considered how the play’s themes might relate to the audience.
“It’s very frustrating to be someone that’s creativenow,” Allen said. “So I thought this was important because it kind of reflects back on the audience, ‘Why are you here? Is storytelling something we should value or something we need to put aside?’”
Ledahl also felt refreshed to return to managing an entirely student-run production in person.
“Student theater is really a labor of love because we are fully independent,” Ledahl said. “We lean on the department for space and resources, but we are calling all the shots, and all of the people in charge are students.”
While Allen takes pride in the work of the cast and crew on “The Antipodes,” he believes that much of the play is up to the interpretation of the individual upon viewing.
“The show is, I think, a litmus test. I think it’s ambiguous for a reason and people will get different things out of the show,” Allen said. “Overall, it should remind people of the significance of art and being creative, even when it seems like it’s the least important thing in the world.”
Ben Allen ’23 and Cloe Tarlton ‘23 are members of the Bowdoin Orient.