On opening weekend of the Theatre Department’s spring show Dark Play or Stories for Boys, a feeling of anticipatory excitement hangs in the air inside Minor Theater. Audience members filter in to a soundtrack that is relaxed but with foreboding minor tones foreshadowing the darker themes of the play. Projected onto large panels on stage are images of enlarged gray pixels. Amidst the scene, theatregoers find their seats and chat about Dark Play’s significance as the last student production in Hamilton’s historic performance space.

Dark Play deals with questions of the Internet’s evolving role in today’s globalized world, especially the consequences of its potential misuse. Fourteen-year-old Nick, played by Charlie Wilson ’16, creates an alternate Internet persona, Rachel (played by Katherine Delesalle ’14), to lure a young and naïve Adam (Michael Gagnon ’16) into his home.

Nick is able to use his computer screen name and the anonymity of the Internet as a protective screen. In this sense, technology carries the plot of Dark Play, a fact that could be seen working in tension with the antiquity of the performance space. Wilson enjoyed the pairing of the two.

“It’s obviously a really old space, and this is clearly a very cutting-edge, modern play,” Wilson says. “It [has been] kind of fun to push the old building to its technological limits.”

Minor Theater was renovated to serve as an acting space in 1962 and named for benefactor and trustee Clark H. Minor, Class of 1902. But the building itself is much older. It first opened in 1872 as a library, later serving as an infirmary and dormitory for the overflow of young women who visited the Hill for houseparty weekends as guests of the all-male student population.

The building’s final days as a performance space and conversion to a residence hall beginning this summer will close some doors on old lore, pre-production rituals and remaining artifacts of past plays. Away will go the paint cans that have collected over the years and the actor-inscribed surfaces backstage. What we present here, then, is an homage to Minor, the story of the backstage workings of the last department production to go up there — Dark Play or Stories for Boys.

Paint cans in minor theatre basement
Paint cans and props collected over the years. Charlie Wilson ’16 describes how in the backstage area of Minor, actors could come in close contact with the set workspace. “You do get to see everything, so you have a close understanding, a good understanding, of the whole process of the different levels of the play.”

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