For senior Emma Roth, theater allows for exploration — exploration into emotion and examination of actions people take in the face of certain circumstances.
“A Golem in Prague,” the title of the play Roth wrote for her senior show, will see its final presentation this coming Friday. The show serves as the ultimate culmination for a class from the previous semester.
The nature of the read-throughs has been informal. They contain a complete reading by Roth’s chosen actors for the play, followed by a period for the audience members to comment and discuss themes, character moments, or elements which have not yet connected.
“It is very informal — bring your coffee and your friends. It is going to be very community-based and inclusive,” said Roth. Tomorrow’s read-through will continue with this style.
“A Golem in Prague” has become a powerful story for the audience and Roth as the workshops and read-throughs have progressed. Roth will continue to develop the story even after the final presentation. “I hope to be working on this play for a long time yet. It’s something I want to keep working on… to let it become what it needs to be,” said Roth.
One of the themes Roth has incorporated into “A Golem in Prague” is trauma. The play centers on how trauma affects its main characters, and how it can compound mental illness — depression in particular. “What it’s turned into as I’ve been reading it is a roadmap of [ways] that some people deal with depression. Here are the effects that depression has on some people… It’s very hard to reach out to people and ask for help, and I think that’s a very important part of the play,” said Roth. “It’s about two sisters who have to learn to love again together.”
Faculty members who have worked with Roth closely over the years appreciate her influence and thoughtful nature toward the arts. “I have learned from [Roth] about strength and tenderness in adversity,” said Heidi Winters Vogel, an associate professor of theater at EMU and director of the past fall’s MacBeth, in which Roth starred as Mac. “She has modeled both the struggle and triumph of commitment and stubbornness.”
Roth has worked to make the characters in her play complex and fully realized. Much of this characterization comes not from the dialogue, but the stage directions. Instead of saying a character’s safe place is books, the stage is covered with bookshelves and she is always reading as the scene ends.
Theater as a medium allows for intuitive features for the audience to pick up, and Roth uses this to the fullest.
“[Roth] has a profound passion for the communication and story-sharing power of theater,” said Vogel. “She connects deeply to the journey of the character she is playing or writing or facilitating, sharing with the audience in another way. Her love of complex characters and their stories drives her to excellence in all aspects of performance.”
EMU’s theater department has changed and been cut in the wake of the budget cuts in favor of other departments and areas of study. However, theater remains a powerful medium. “Theater is amazing. It’s wonderful, and I have never regretted doing it, ever,” said Roth.
“The whole scene at EMU is changing. We are becoming a more science- oriented school, which is fine… but the arts are also equally important… I think it’s still really important for people to be involved… even if it’s just in a tech position. I think it’s just as valuable as sports and as science.”
Feb. 9 will be the final presentation of Roth’s senior show. Bring coffee and friends and come experience “A Golem in Prague.”