“Four Horsemen” Gallops Into WestCo Café this Weekend
Sitting in the Westco Café as the actors and crew of junior Michael Steves’ original new play, “Four Horsemen,” prepare for their next rehearsal, I am pretty intrigued. The intimate living room setting sparks an interesting contrast to the grim tone the title evokes. After Steves gives a brief synopsis of the play, everything becomes a little clearer.
“Four Horsemen” is about four ordinary humans who find themselves in close encounters with the third kind—an alien who comes to earth. The alien reveals to the group that its species is planning to completely destroy the world the following dawn. It’s up to these four to convince this alien that humanity is worth saving. Actors Roxanna Pell ’15, Grace Nix ’15, Amara Davila ’13, Andrew Malkin ’15, and Michael Matthews ’15 make up the cast.
Steves says that he has always wanted to do a sci-fi story, especially a more serious one, since he has written mostly comedies while at Wes.
“I’ve always wanted to do something with sci-fi,” Steves said. “It’s a genre that you usually don’t see on the stage—I wanted to take sci-fi to theater.”
Steves describes the play as a sort of indie sci-fi piece—it contains fantastical elements but still focuses on the human aspects of its characters, their emotions, and especially their motivations.
“It’s focused on ideas and people instead of special effects,” Steves said.
At the same time, he wanted to make a high-concept play that would still be able to stay within a low budget ($50, spent mainly on pie and chips). The alien of the show is particularly emblematic of this spirit; the extraterrestrials take the form of anything the characters might be missing in their lives. This is not a play with the weird costumes and flashing lights that one might expect from science fiction.
“I wanted to set it very much in the mundane, real world,” Steves explained. “It’s not like ‘Independence Day.’ It’s some sort of encounter with aliens that might actually happen.”
From the atmosphere the first act creates, the play promises to be both exciting and intimate. The chaos and confusion coursing through these characters are well-conveyed by the writing and the actors’ performances. These elements combine well to portray the emotional conflicts that this extremely specific event has on these characters.
One can imagine this is partially due to the highly collaborative nature of the rehearsal process for the play. Pell described the unique experience of working on a student-written show as one of her favorite experiences. Most of the time, the director and cast have their hands tied by rights and royalties, and thus cannot take any license with the actual script of the play. However, this is all changed when the director and the writer are not only in the same room, but also the same person.
“It was awesome!” she said. “I’ve never been involved in a production like this before, one where the director also wrote the show. I thought it was cool that throughout the rehearsal process, we were making changes based on how things worked on stage. It was a really collaborative process.”
That dynamic was highly visible in the interactions among the cast, the crew, and their director. More importantly, these unique relationships come across on stage. The cast works very well together, and the realism the actors manage to exhibit in interactions with each other is remarkable, considering very strange events are taking place around them.
Overall, this weekend promises to be an exciting one in the Westco Café. This play will engage the audience very well and provoke intrigue in a way that only an alien invasion can.