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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE actors tiptoe thin lines in operatic production

Ashley+Ghent%2C+who+plays+the+title+character%2C+and+Linsley+Liburd+share+a+resting+moment+during+rehearsal+for+the+NE+Campus+opera+The+Medium%2C+which+begins+at+7%3A30+p.m.+Jan.+25.%0D%0AHaylie+Jones%2FThe+Collegian
Ashley Ghent, who plays the title character, and Linsley Liburd share a resting moment during rehearsal for the NE Campus opera The Medium, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25. Haylie Jones/The Collegian

By Rhiannon Saegert/nw news editor

Ashley Ghent, who plays the title character, and Linsley Liburd share a resting moment during rehearsal for the NE Campus opera The Medium, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25.
Haylie Jones/The Collegian

The cast of the NE Campus production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s two-act opera The Medium has spent weeks exploring the line between delusion and reality.

Their story of insanity, grief, terror, rage, love and death will unfold at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 in NSTU Center Corner.

The title character, Baba, is a complete fraud who holds bogus séances in her living room with the help of her daughter Monica and mute servant Toby.

Their bereft clients are Mr. and Mrs. Gabino, whose son died recently, and Ms. Nolan, a widow whose daughter is also dead. Baba claims to speak to their dead loved ones. The plot is set in motion when, during a séance, Baba is terrified by what she believes is a real supernatural event only she experiences.

The rest of the opera follows Baba’s mental breakdown over the next few days and raises questions about grief, loss and the psychological need to remain connected with loved ones, living or dead.

Morgan Wilson, who plays Ms. Nolan, described the opera as “a bunch of people who have nothing left in their lives, and they’ll try to do anything they can to fill the holes.”

The opera, sung in English, was originally set in an ambiguous European city some time after World War II, but this version is not tied to any specific period, faculty director Stan Paschal said. Additionally, this production uses only piano accompaniment instead of an orchestra. The only other instrument is the tambourine Toby uses to communicate. The set is minimal — a table, four chairs, a coat hanger, a trunk and a card table.

The cast describes the opera as a psychological thriller and said the audience can never be sure if the action onstage is really happening.

“I think that it’s safe to say that the audience will have some guesswork to do, as far as the ghosts and the voices, to figure out if it’s real or all in the characters’ heads,” said Sara Collier, who plays Mrs. Gabino.

Jarred House, who plays Mr. Gabino, urged the audience to pay attention to how things unfold.

“The play’s a very good play, and the ending is wide open,” House said. “Keep an open mind.”

The singers are all TCC music students with the exception of Ashley Ghent, a current UTA student who plays Baba.

Ghent said her character is an emotionally unstable alcoholic and not entirely sane to begin with. Throughout the play, Baba is physically and mentally abusive to her daughter and Toby. Ghent said that, as an actor, she believes Baba became a charlatan out of grief after the death of her husband and perhaps has some misguided desire to find him and gain closure.

Linsley Liburd plays Toby, the mute servant.

“I don’t think he’s mute for any medical reason,” Liburd said. “I think that, wherever he comes from, he has some very traumatic past, and that’s the real reason he never speaks.”

Suzi Lee, who plays Monica, said her character is a teenage girl who has fallen into a caretaker role because of her mother’s volatility.

Monica is “innocent, well mostly innocent, but she has to be very mature,” she said.

Monica has a compassionate nature, and, as an actor, Lee believes this is how Monica justifies her part in her mother’s charade. At the very least, the customers are given the closure they want, even if it is a lie.

“They come even though they know subconsciously that it’s insane,” Lee said. “They know it’s not going to work, but they can’t help it.”

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