Theater aficionados know "Closer" not as a song by Ne-Yo or a television series starring Kyra Sedgwick, nor even as the blockbuster featuring Julia Roberts, Jude Law Natalie Portman and Olive Owen.
"Closer" is the 1997 Patrick Marber play, being performing at Bowdoin this weekend.
The film—a drama about the dangerous game of love and adultery—is based on a play of the same name by Patrick Marber that is being performed at Bowdoin this weekend.
Tiffany Maltos '11, an English and theater major, chose to direct "Closer" as an independent study. Her interest in the play began when she read it her sophomore year.
"I was so moved by it that I knew at some point I would want to work on this play," said Maltos. "Whenever I had some free time, I would review the script and write down all my ideas for scenes."
"Closer" features four actors who are involved in a series of intimate relationships, love triangles and betrayals in modern-day London. The play has a very different ending than the Hollywood movie version, but the themes of love and sexuality are consistent and relatable.
"At some point in our lives, either as adolescents or as adults, we will experience one of these situations," said Maltos. "Someone will lie to us; someone we love will hurt us; someone we are close to will leave us. This play helps comment on those experiences as well as opens up a discussion about them that I believe people should be having."
Maltos has always been active in the theater community at Bowdoin and branched out into directing during her junior year. Last fall she directed "Really Rosie" as an independent study, which prepared her to take on a greater challenge this semester.
Maltos worked with Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance Roger Bechtel to develop her independent study. "Closer" was one of her top options, and Bechtel encouraged her to tackle the difficult play.
"I brought her back to 'Closer' because I think it's a powerful piece that debunks certain notions of love and identity and provides a wonderful opportunity for a director to work with actors," wrote Bechtel in an e-mail to the Orient.
Bechtel assisted Maltos in understanding the play, but all aspects of the production have been the work of Maltos, the actors and Masque and Gown.
Masque and Gown helped fund the production and provided the technical crew and design team. Lianna Bessette '13, the production manager for "Closer" and other Masque and Gown shows, has been working with Maltos on the show since May.
"It's a huge amount of work, but I like being aware of all the technicalities of the production," said Bessette. "We lost a few integral people to injury and other issues late in the process, but everyone on the team rose to the challenge and took on major responsibilities."
"Closer" is a complex play not only for the actors; the intricacy of the scenery and effects has created obstacles for the production team as well.
"'Closer' is particularly challenging because of the multimedia we're using," said Bessette. "There are more pieces that need to come together, and although it is more work for us, it's very rewarding."
Maltos was able to find four students that fit the attitudes she had in mind for the characters. Casting took place in early September.
"From the moment an actor walked into the audition room, I tried to tune into their energy and presence," said Maltos. "Then I listened to how they read and if they were strong, could convey the emotions, and, without me having to say much, got the wants and needs of the character based on their instinct, I called them back."
"Closer" stars Ben Rosenbloom '14 as Dan, Natalie Jimenez '11 as Alice, Elyse Terry '11 as Anna, and Bryant Johnson '11 as Larry.
First year Rosenbloom auditioned for "Closer" to get involved early with theater at Bowdoin. The play was his first experience acting in a serious work and playing an open-ended character.
"It was a lot of fun, and also pretty challenging, to interpret Dan; he's a poor obituary writer in London in a relationship that he hates and a life that's going nowhere," wrote Rosenbloom in an e-mail to the Orient. "He comes off initially as a shy nobody, a lovable underdog, but that interpretation alone doesn't quite fit with how he acts later."
Terry stepped out of her comfort zone and auditioned for "Closer" after being attracted by its plot and small cast size. She immediately connected with her character by trying to analyze the reasons Anna both experiences and causes unhappiness.
"The process of uncovering her humanity, of trying to understand her vulnerabilities and mistakes, seemed like a great challenge," wrote Terry in an e-mail to the Orient. "In the end, she is this profoundly alone person who tries, and fails, to connect with others—and I think that's a condition we can all relate to in some way."
Terry enjoyed the rehearsal process and found comfort in her fellow actors and her director.
"There are so many moments of physical and emotional vulnerability in this show, and Tiffany has been able to create a safe environment so we could experience those moments," said Terry.
Maltos lavished equal praise on her actors.
"They are excellent communicators and have helped me, as a student director, learn how to help them," she said.
Maltos will put these directing experiences toward her long-term goal of creating a theater company that performs children's theater. "Closer" is certainly not a play for kids, but it allowed Maltos to grow as a director.
"I had to approach these characters differently than I would for a children's show," said Maltos. "I've tried a different genre of theater and have come out the other side."
"Closer" had its first performance last night, and will continue tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Wish Theater. Tickets are $1 with Bowdoin identification and $3 for general admission.
They are also available at the Smith Union Information Desk and immediately before the show at the Pickard Box Office.