Playing an eccentric family of cigar makers, members of Trinity Theatre took the stage Friday, Feb. 20, for the opening night of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play â€œAnna in the Tropics.â€
When the play begins, a newly hired lector reads Tolstoyâ€™s â€œAnna Kareninaâ€ to the workers in the cigar factory. The events of the novel then begin to actually unfold in the workersâ€™ lives.
â€œThere are so many different parallels between all of the characters in the play and those in the novel,â€ said Tristan Harness, a first year. â€œBut I think the most interesting part is when the characters realize that they are real enough to where they know that they canâ€™t live in that fantasy world. Itâ€™s where they differ from the characters in â€˜Anna Kareninaâ€™ Â that makes it so interesting.â€
First produced in 2003, â€œAnna in the Tropicsâ€ is fairly new to the theatre scene. Roberto Prestigiacomo, associate professor of human communication and theatre and director of the production, has a special connection to the play.
â€œIt was first commissioned by a theatre company in Florida, and that was the same company that gave me my first professional job,â€ Prestigiacomo said. â€œSo I know the theatre and the people who developed this play. Iâ€™ve been interested in bringing it to Trinity.â€
The play centers around a Cuban family living in the year 1929.
â€œI was really glad to be a part of this production because I think the story is something that really needs to be told,â€ said Rebekah Williams, a junior. â€œItâ€™s about modernity versus progress, technology, the importance of the family and the Cuban culture.â€
In addition to learning about the culture, cast members also had the unique experience of learning how to roll cigars.
â€œWe started with prop leaves, just to get in the habit of rolling while saying our lines at the same time,â€ Williams said. â€œTwo weeks ago, we got in the actual tobacco. Itâ€™s very habitual once you understand what youâ€™re doing.â€
Throughout the play, the actors frequently produce finished cigars after going through each step of the cigar-rolling process.
â€œOne of my favorite things is how authentic we make everything, by using the real, actual tobacco leaves,â€ Harness said. â€œWe eat real food on stage and we drink real coffee; we make the performance as authentic as possible. I think it brings a certain level of accessibility and tangibility to the story and characters.â€
â€œAnna in the Tropicsâ€ will finish out its second week of performances with an 8 p.m. curtain time on Friday, Feb. 27, and Saturday, Feb. 28. Tickets are $6 for students and are available at the box office.