The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard - Yale University Senior Thesis Production 2009 - Photo by Crystal Garcia    
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by Tom Stoppard
directed by Gary Jaffe

APRIL 9 - 11, 2009
at the Whitney Theatre
a Yale Theatre Studies Senior Thesis for Lee Seymour

The Real Thing follows a group of intelligent but insecure theater makers as they spin around each other—in and out of love, through pretension and false fronts, searching for some shred of emotional honesty in each other and in themselves. By staging the play in the round on an abstract circular design, I evoked and intensified this central action of spinning. In rehearsals, I created a safe environment which gave space for self-questioning and vulnerability, allowing the actors to confront the intellectual and emotional challenges of the play.

Featuring: Lee Seymour, Lian Walden, Tommy Crawford, (both pictured left), Maya Seidler, Claire Gordon, Andy Wagner, Matt McCollum and a brief cameo by Gary Jaffe

Scenic Design by Samo Gale; Lighting Design by Lauren Bremen; Costume Design by Zoelle Egner; Sound Design by Taylour Chang

View the REAL THING gallery.
Photos by Crystal Garcia.



"The show is intimate and intense — Stoppard’s exquisite narration, the cast’s raw energy and emotion and the production’s surround seating and sound make the audience feel right up close to something naked and terrifying and true. Sort of like psycho-emotional hard-core pornography. Live.

Stoppard’s script is brought to life by a phenomenal cast who keep the energy and emotion up through the demanding show. Seymour shines as Henry and delivers a barrage of second act monologues with a broad range of emotions and styles, allowing us to revel in and react to the character’s epiphanies and transformations. The close seating all around the stage affords the audience the pleasure of catching the actors’ extra little movements and reactions. Examining a relatively bare stage and small cast for over two hours could be incredibly tedious — luckily, this show only grows more intriguing."

Hilary Faxon,
Yale Daily News



Working with Gary on “The Real Thing” was a joyous struggle with a brilliant but difficult piece, which ultimately ended in the most satisfying theatrical experience of my life to date. From the outset, Gary had a great read on the core themes he wanted to explore: the cyclical, revolving nature of love, examining the same aches from different perspectives, trying to catch a glint of what one might call “the real thing.” For my part, I saw eye-to-eye with Gary on almost everything, and where we didn’t agree, we had a strong enough working relationship to find new paths that often lead to better things than either of us would have found on our own. The experience was deeply personal for me, with my own life mirroring events in the play to an uncanny degree, and Gary had a great instinct in determining when to use that pain, when to push through it, and when to leave it alone. Ultimately, creating a piece of theater is akin to arguing a case for the characters therein, a case for their humanity. Javier Bardem is fond of saying that “actors are lawyers for their characters” - we may not like them, but we have to defend their actions to the death. Our job, cast and crew, was to win this case, to embrace and then bypass Stoppard’s witty language and bring to life the aches that drive it. And if the laughter and tears in both our eyes and those of our audience members at the end of the show were any indication, we won that case.

Lee Seymour, Yale '09

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