2018-10-19 / Front Page

Stage Rage is set ... for ‘Paradise Lost’

By Abigail Worthing Staff Writer


“Paradise Lost” director, Hollie Pryor, left, and Megan Tripaldi, who plays Satan in this production, review lines in Tripaldi’s home. They serve as the managing director and artistic director, respectively, for the production company Stage Rage, which will mount the performance of “Paradise Lost” at Mayo Street Arts Nov. 8 through 11. (Abigail Worthing photo) “Paradise Lost” director, Hollie Pryor, left, and Megan Tripaldi, who plays Satan in this production, review lines in Tripaldi’s home. They serve as the managing director and artistic director, respectively, for the production company Stage Rage, which will mount the performance of “Paradise Lost” at Mayo Street Arts Nov. 8 through 11. (Abigail Worthing photo) Two University of Southern Maine graduates are working together to use theater to bring the classic story of Adam and Eve to southern Maine.

Hollie Pryor, a class of ‘18 graduate of the University of Southern Maine department of Theater, is kicking off her career in Maine with an undertaking of biblical proportions: leading a cast through a production of “Paradise Lost,” adapted by Mike Cheung of Gorham from the epic poem by English poet John Milton.

The poem itself is an interpretation of the story of the fall of man, specifically the temptation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. While the poem was written in the 17th century, the current production has the unique opportunity of looking through the lens of the present.


Members of the cast of “Paradise Lost,” a production adapted by Mike Cheung of Gorham of Tom Milton’s 17th century epic poem, prepares to begin a fight scene choreographed by Jake Cote of Portland. The scene features a fight between the angels of heaven and the fallen angels who have chosen to align themselves with Satan, played by Megan Tripaldi, in red. From left, Allison Kelley, Dalton Kimball, Tripaldi, Julia Fitzgerald, Adam Ferguson and Cathy Counts. (Courtesy photo) Members of the cast of “Paradise Lost,” a production adapted by Mike Cheung of Gorham of Tom Milton’s 17th century epic poem, prepares to begin a fight scene choreographed by Jake Cote of Portland. The scene features a fight between the angels of heaven and the fallen angels who have chosen to align themselves with Satan, played by Megan Tripaldi, in red. From left, Allison Kelley, Dalton Kimball, Tripaldi, Julia Fitzgerald, Adam Ferguson and Cathy Counts. (Courtesy photo) “I was raised Catholic, and there has always been the connotation that Eve did this stupid, naive thing,” Pryor said during an Oct. 12 interview. “In John Milton’s adaptation, however, Eve is smart. It’s the idea that without suffering, we can never truly know happiness. It’s been so exciting to explore.”

Joining Pryor through this experience are a collection of actors and theater professionals spanning across southern Maine, some of whom were classmates at USM.

“With ‘Paradise Lost,’ I’m the youngest in the room. Sometimes I’m working with people who I admired in school, like Mary Kate (Ganza, the Portland actress who plays “Eve” in the production) who was a senior when I was a freshman,” said Pryor, who recently moved from Rhode Island to Portland. “You see them on this pedestal, and now it’s great to work with them in a leadership position and see they’re just as amazing and talented as they seemed.”

Rehearsals for the production began on Oct. 2, and Pryor has been working hard to ensure that the process is conducive with a creative environment as the team works through the heavy subject matter and complicated language of Milton’s poem, adapted by Cheung to flow for the stage.

“Milton’s words are excellent,” Pryor said. “It’s great to bring them into the present.”

Bringing older works into the modern day is part of the mission for Stage Rage, the production company mounting this rendition. Stage Rage is the company of artistic director Megan Tripaldi, who founded the organization in 2014 with a production of “King Lear.” Tripaldi, a playwright and actor, enjoys the opportunity to bring forward and modernize classic stories to fit modern life.

“With Stage Rage, we want to take these older stories and show why they’re still relevant,” said Tripaldi, who resides in Portland. “We want to showcase these marginalized voices, like Eve in “Paradise Lost,” and show why they are so important.”

Next spring, Stage Rage will focus on a different vein of classic texts, this time taking from the pages of Greek mythology for the stories of Aphrodite and Phaedra, respectively, adapted by Tripaldi.

“In my version, Phaedra isn’t the villain,” Tripaldi said. “That will be the focus of the company moving forward. More voices from women.”

Tripaldi is no stranger to adapting classic works and breathing new life into tales that many have relegated to the shelves of high school literature.

Tripaldi led a workshop during Portland Fringe titled Making Shakespeare New! where participants were guided through taking the text of Shakespeare and applying it to the modern world. The workshop came after Tripaldi and Ella Mock mounted a production of Romeo and Juliet in May, tailoring the play to fit a more modern time with gender fluid casting.

The production was mounted to be free to the public, allowing everyone who wished to enjoy Shakespeare, including performances in public spaces such as parks, with the actors adapting to the changing location.

Tripaldi also recently wrapped up a touring solo show titled “Forgotten Siren, Gone to Die,” which featured Tripaldi on the ukulele, performing original songs about the plight of a siren drawing sailors in from the shores. Tripaldi performed the production at both the Port- land Fringe Festival and the Providence Fringe Festival in Rhode Island. The tour wrapped with a performance with suggested donations to benefit this production of “Paradise Lost,” specifically.

As Stage Rage is in its formative stages as a company, they have been utilizing fundraising and crowd funding opportunities for this production, going as far as Tripaldi selling knit hats at First Friday in Portland to go toward the costs of mounting the production on a budget.

“We are working on becoming a nonprofit so that in the future we can apply for grants,” Tripaldi said.

While Tripaldi is the artistic director of Stage Rage, Pryor will soon sign a contract to become managing director for the company. Tripaldi is also playing the role of Satan in the production, and has taken a step back to allow Pryor to take charge.

“It has been strange to take a step back and relinquish authority in my own company, but this is a big role to focus on,” Tripaldi said. “Hollie is just so competent and on top of everything, she makes us all feel very taken care of.”

Moving forward, Stage Rage is looking to find studio space, which Tripaldi is hoping to find in either South Portland. However, they are looking into the possibility of Biddeford and Saco, as the theatre community expands in the area.

“This will be Stage Rage’s first experience with a static space, with all performances at Mayo Street Arts, but we really like being able to do pop-up events and smaller performances,” Tripaldi said. “We’re hoping in the future to do more staged readings, and Fringe performances. We’re looking forward to doing more art. We want to continue to expand through Southern Maine.”

“Paradise Lost” will run at Mayo Street Arts in Portland the weekend of Nov. 8-11. The company will continue to rehearse and fundraise.

 news@scarboroughleader.com.

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