Creative pursuits bring ‘Texts’ to life

Christopher Smith performed his senior acting thesis in an adaptation of “Texts for Nothing” by Samuel Beckett. Smith said the play found him two years ago. It was so powerful that he knew he had to perform it himself. Smith is a theater major who plans to pursue an acting career after graduating in May. / photo by Emmah Obradovich
Christopher Smith performed his senior acting thesis in an adaptation of “Texts for Nothing” by Samuel Beckett. Smith said the play found him two years ago. It was so powerful that he knew he had to perform it himself. Smith is a theater major who plans to pursue an acting career after graduating in May. / photo by Emmah Obradovich

Gabby De La Cruz
Staff Writer

Samuel Beckett’s “Texts for Nothing” a play adapted for the stage by University of La Verne’s Director of Theater Steven Kent and Joe Chaikin, was performed by senior Christopher Smith for his senior acting thesis. Smith, a theater major with an emphasis in acting, performed the play on Feb. 9, 10 and 11 in the University’s Dailey Theatre.

Kent, who is also director of the play, explained that Chaikin received permission from Beckett to use his play for an adaptation.

“This was the first time Beckett ever allowed anyone to adapt his work, which has been previously performed in New York, Paris, London and Toronto,” Kent said.

The play, which consists of 14 stories, was too complex to use for Smith’s performance. Because of this, Smith used about a third of the stories but made sure to follow the main theme throughout the play.

The setting of the play, which was different from a typical stage setting, had a section blocked off which only allowed seating in a right side of the theater.

The blocked off area remained very dark, while the stage was filled with smoke and bright lights.

Darcy Kent Cook, a senior English major, really enjoyed watching the play.

“It was an extremely difficult piece to do, but he did a great job at it,” Cook said.

The play, to some, was not the typical theater performance. It was about a man who is trying to figure out his life and where it is taking him.

Smith describes the play as a man who climbs to the top of a mountain to find himself in a ditch.

Freshman Sheila Del Castillo said that it was unique and at times found it challenging to interpret exactly what the character was going through.

“I think that everyone can interpret the story a bit differently,” Del Castillo said.

“There is no right or wrong way to understand the play,” she added.

Senior Jesse Soto, the light board operator of the play, said the whole performance was very different from what one usually sees in college theaters.

The core group he worked with was amazing and was all very cooperative with Smith and the rest of the crew, he said.

“It was great getting to know Steven Kent and Melody Rahbari, the stage manager. I really enjoyed working on the play as well as working with Chris,” Soto said.

“He’s a great guy and an amazing person to work with,” he added.

Smith said that the play relates to what happens to everyone at some point during life.

“Sometimes you get so lost in your world, not knowing what you’re doing, and trying to sort out in your head what is going on, which is what the character is going through,” Smith said.

Smith said that “Texts for Nothing” found him two years ago. He began rehearsing for it in the beginning of January.

Smith said that the first time he read the story he was stirred. He had never attempted anything like this and at first he was terrified.

But rather than worrying, he learned to relax, which is something Georgij Paro, director of the University’s production of “Waiting for Godot” taught him, and the material found its way through.

“It was the most enjoyable, frustrating and rewarding experience,” Smith said.

Smith has also performed in 11 other major roles at ULV. Some include Captain Dick in “Naughty Marrieta” in 2002, “Rocky in the Rocky Horror Picture Show” in 2003, Vladimir in “Waiting for Godot” in 2004, and more recently, Lopahkin in “The Cherry Orchard” in 2005.

After graduating in May, Smith plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

Gabby De La Cruz can be reached at gdelacruz@ulv.edu.

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