The Magician Shows Promise, But Still Needs Refinement
Lawrance Bernabo, Duluth News Tribune
November 22, 2013
At the end of the spring semester of 2011, I had the opportunity to watch the members of Tom Isbell’s playwriting class have their fellow theatrical students perform scenes from the plays they had written.
A couple of the cuttings struck me as having great promise, including one written by Alex Goebel, whom I had seen on local stages for several years. Consequently, whenever I would run into him, I would point a finger in the grand manner of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and tell him to finish writing his play.
Little did I know that it would fall to me to review The Magician, the Stage 2 production directed by Erika Sasseville, which opened Thursday night in the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Dudley Experimental Theatre. The promise I saw back then still exists, but this play needs some serious refinement.
The drama centers around three teenagers. Jett (Tyler Goebel), his best friend Kinley (Joslyn Danielson) and Carver (Phil Hoelscher in a standout performance), who bullies them both. Carver accuses Jett of being gay, which Jett denies. Unwilling to defend himself, Jett provides Kinley with the superhero she dreams of coming to her rescue: the Magician.
Through the first act strange things happen to Jett. One moment there are recorded voices playing over the dialogue like a postmodern “Strange Interlude,” the next the mute button is pushed and a character talks but we hear nothing. Sometimes Jett or one of the male chorus members launches into a magician’s spiel. Clearly things are not as they seem.
We are intrigued.
With a title like The Magician, even though I knew that this was the main character’s superhero alter-ego, I was expecting to be confronted with questions as to what was reality and what was an illusion. I was wary of absolutely anything that might distract me from the “trick.” But Goebel’s play is more like a mystery, because it is replete not so much with distractions, but rather with red herrings.
We are mystified.
The net result is decidedly counter-productive, because at the end we do not need to know how the trick was done, but we at least need to know what was the trick.
I wanted to say the pieces start falling into place in the first scene of the second act, not when a light bulb went on, but rather when one dims, but that was not how things played out. At the end of any trick the desire response is “Wow!” not “What...?”
We are stumped.
To quote Churchill on a different subject, The Magician is like “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” I am not being glib. The final scene and the brief epilogue offer a trio of resolutions as to what has been (is?) happening. Since they cannot all be reconciled into a coherent narrative, my assumption is that they are not intended to be. Whether this was intended to be existential, absurdist or simply postmodern, it ended up being rather nihilistic.
The Magician, written by the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s very own Alex Goebel, opened on Thursday at The Dudley Experimental Theatre. Performed by Stage 2, the universities only student run acting company, and directed by Erika Sasseville. The Magician tells the story of Jett Lucas (played by Alex’s little brother, Tyler Goebel) and his best friend Kinley (played by Joslyn Danielson) who are both being bullied by Craver (played by Phil Hoelscher). At one point in the play, Kinley mentions that all she wants in life is her own superhero to save her from her troubles. This leads Jett, who is obviously in love her with, to create the persona of “The Magician”, a superhero with no real powers. As Jett, slowly loses his mind to the “The Magician” reality starts to waver and the audience no longer knows what is real and what is happening in Jett’s mind.
The set was very well done but there were some draw backs. The backdrop was a black wall that was painted with the skyline of the city and the actual set was a corner of a brick building with two doors. The doors had issues staying closed and it was quite noticeable. The stairs that lead to the back stage area were loud and squeaky. Noticing someone walking up and down them in the middle of the scene caused a distraction that lead to more confusion. The coolest part of the set was the video board. The video showed different windows, graffiti, etc. to show where the actors where in the story.
The lighting was also a key part of the production and was designed in a very interesting style. “The Magician” would control the lights throughout the production. With a snap of his fingers and lowering and raising his hand the lights would follow his lead. The use of spotlights and the floor of the Dudley Theatre were used to show flashbacks.
The scene changes were very sloppy and proved to be yet another distraction to what was happening in the script. At one point there was scene change going on behind a scene happening in the front. Moving a table, two chairs, and an unnecessary amount of alcohol bottles onto the stage, just for that all to be used to be used for two minutes only to be moved again. Some of the scene changes also took an uncomfortable amount of time to start the play again after the change.
Overall it was a very promising production that after a few tweaks could very well be a great play that could continue on for many years. Alex Goebel has a promising future ahead of him.
The Magician is a tale involving mystery, romance, and some intense psychological mayhem when a young boy develops a superhero alter ego to save his best friend. The Magician was a world premiere play written by Alex Goebel that was performed in the Dudley Experimental Theatre last Friday.
This play was astonishing on many levels. The script written by Alex Goebel was extremely well thought out in terms of character development. The two leads of Jett (Tyler Goebel) and Kinley (Joslyn Danielson) felt like real people whose lives actually seemed to matter. The dialogue was written nicely with some great witty moments thrown in for comic effect, but when it came to the plot of the play a touch of refinement or clarification may have greatly helped as one was left leaving the play in almost too confused a state to function.
The acting of this play was phenomenal. T. Goebel was well suited to the role of Jett as he pulled off the awkward kid and the mysterious vigilante quite well. T. Goebel put forth a character that was sincere and almost sympathy worthy, but had his moments of terrifying rage that showed that there was more to this character than meets the eye. Danielson was great as Kinley as she really caught the “badass” nature of her character, while still maintaining a softness that revealed how vulnerable Kinley really was.
It was Phil Hoelscher playing the role of Carver who really stole the show. It was difficult to tell whether this character was a confused, almost decent guy or a demented jerk. Hoelscher reflected both aspects of this character and blended them together so well that when he switched it was such a complete transformation, almost a new character entirely. Hoelscher performed in such a convincing way that the hatred for this character was tangible for so much of the show.
The fight scenes in this play were definitively the most interesting part. The fight choreographer James Goodman accomplished an amazing feat as the stage combat was quite impressive. Some of the punches did appear obviously too wide, but the scenes involving any kicking or any sort of wresting between the characters was astoundingly real. Violence in the show was widely used, yet it was so interesting to watch the elaborate fight scenes that it was worth it.
Another highlight of the show was the special effect lighting meant to cast the superheroic illusion over the play. Lighting designer Matt Dufault definitely put together some impressive lighting design as he created this illusion and was spot on in keeping with the play’s cues whether it was a blackout at the snap of a finger or magically controlled dimming.
The Magician was certainly an entertaining show that really got one thinking, but a bit of clarification in the script would have made a world of difference. The acting of the show was stupendous especially Hoelscher as the main antagonist of Carver. The fights were fun to watch and the show really helped to create a magical illusion. The end of the show left an illusion of hauntingly real and disturbing potential.
The Magician opened last Thursday in the Dudley Experimental Theatre at University of MN Duluth. Written by UMD’s very own student Alex Goebel and directed by Erika Sasseville, the performance of The Magician started strong, but left the audience confused and wondering what they just witnessed.
The Magician is the story of a young homeless boy named Jett (played by Tyler Goebel) living on the city streets with quite a few issues going on. Once the going gets tough for him, he begins to imagine his life as the Magician. The Magician was based off of his best friend Kinley’s (played by Joslyn Danielson) fantasy of having a super hero to save her.
The main antagonist was Carver, played by Phil Hoelscher. In Jett’s fantasy, Carver was a complete jerk who bullied Jett and was calling him gay. However, in real life, Carver was a confused boy who cared for Jett, but did something terrible to Kinley. Hoelscher stole the show with his performance of playing a character who was only confused about himself, and a character who completely bullied Jett.
The show was very well thought out and written, but was quite confusing. In the fantasy world, it didn’t seem like a fantasy--just an over dramatized reality. I realized after the show that the characters that were in the fantasy world were wearing black and white. The “real life” characters, wore color.
The flashbacks that would occur during the performance, such as Kinley’s parents yelling at Jett, were unclear and sloppy. One would have to really think about the scene in order to realize it was a flashback.
The use of lighting in the performance was a large part of the Magician’s act. He would dim the lights with a snap of his fingers or with a wave of his hand. Also, with the use of only a few lights on the stage, the audience got the feeling the actors were in the street in the middle of the night, with a nice use of silhouettes.
The Magician is also a very violent play. With a fight scene between the Magician and evil minions, rapists, and Carver; the performer’s acted out the fights very well. Although there was an obvious amount of space between the attacker and the victim, and also an unrealistic amount of noise when getting punched in the face, the actors kept on “rolling with the punches” no matter what.
The Magician’s first performance went very well, with a few shining moments and others that needed more work.
The details of a dramatic show, not including improv, lie in the script behind it. The actors need a basis on which to perform on, no matter how confusing, edgy, or mindboggling the script may be. If there was not a script, the play would be even more confusing than needed, and without a script, the world premiere of Alex Goebel’s The Magician, directed by Erika Sasseville, would have never happened.
The show itself, while ultimately confusing for the average audience, is impeccable for experimental theatre. In The Magician, nothing was ever as it seemed, and the audience had to read between the lines and look into the details of costuming and lighting and design to follow and make sense of the production, to figure out what parts were real and what parts were imaginary. In some cases, it took an entire team of people just do figure out what this play was actually about and what certain events and design efforts meant for the production. This could either be determined as a weakness, or it could be seen as room for growth.
A main reason why this is an extraordinary example for experimental theatre is because of its use of metaphor and free will of how it is designed. Some of the scenes take place inside of the main character’s mind, and how clearly this is shown is completely up to the costume designer’s jurisdiction. The main character in this play is Jett, played by Tyler Goebel, and for the premiere of this show, the costume designer (Heather Olsen) used the color of the costumes as the main indicator of which scenes were real (brightly colored clothing) and which were completely “mental” (grayscale), and often times it could be difficult for the audience to figure out on their own.
The acting in this show was done superbly. The several actors involved in the show had nothing to base their acting on, since it had never been done before, and they had to set the stage for how this play could run for future generations, if this play should go on. Some things could have been done better, such as a few missed lines or clearer costuming, but they did an amazing job with what they could do with the script. The actors, particularly Goebel, Phil Hoelscher (Carver), and Joslyn Danielson (Kinley), had to completely create their character, not just become the character. They had to create a base for who their characters were, their background, and how they reacted to certain situations, and that is hard for any performer to do. The designers had to create a show based off of a script and an idea from the writer, not another performance that someone else had done of the same show in the past. Hat’s off to the entire cast, crew, and team that worked and helped out with this production. You have created the foundation for this play for the rest of theatre history.
The reason the cast, crew, and team deserve such high esteem and honor is because this script, unless you sit with it and read through it day after day after day or meet with a group afterword to discuss what the heck happened, is one of the most confusing scripts to ever be written. The storyline is simple: Jett, a gay teenager, is an only child to a widowed mother (who doesn’t like being single), and his father died from an assisted suicide that was meant to look like a magic trick gone completely wrong. Something horrific happened to his best friend Kinley, and his idea of coping with this trauma in a PTSD manner consisted of Jett believing himself to be a superhero (a magician of sorts, as the title of the play points out), and Carver—the person ultimately responsible for the horror that happened to Kinley—is seen in Jett’s mind as a villain that needs to be stopped. The idea is simple, but the plotline is a type of confusion that dances along the line of ingenious and utterly crazy, but in the best of ways.
The plotline dances between reality and mental reality, what is real and what isn’t, and the audience has to take the play and dissect and rearrange it in their own minds to make any sense of it. The scenes alter from flashbacks to reality to mental images and it is just simply confusing. The key to watching this play is to go in with a completely open mind, and to know that it is okay to be confused with the ending. The play was created so that people could think about the production and not just take it at face value. This play was designed for a specific audience, and with time it could grow and grow into a masterpiece. With more experience, time, and possible editing for clarity, this play should ultimately become less confusing, should it be considered for reproduction in another theatre.
This play is a malleable work of art. The design can be played with in 10,000 different ways to make the plot clearer, but for a first run and a world premiere in an experimental, student-run theatre program, it was sincerely a job well done, and the cast, crew, tech team, and writer himself, should give themselves a pat on the back and share in a giant group hug. You guys did it, and you did it with style and a bit of magic.
Intro to Theatre
Alex Goebel’s world premiere of The Magician opened on Thursday, November 21 2013 in the Dudley Experimental Theatre at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. It was a Stage 2 Production directed by Erika Sasseville. It is a play about a psychotic teenager, Jett (Tyler Goebel) who thinks he has super powers and at the same time, is fighting his sexuality. He is trapped between his real life and his imaginary one. His friend, Kinley (Joslyn Danielson) gets raped by Carver (Phil Hoelscher) and ends up taking her own life because she doesn’t know where her place is in the world.
The scene design was very basic and straightforward. It would transform into Jett’s different worlds. There was a construction fence that represented these different worlds. When he was on one side he would be at home or on the streets with Kinley and this side represented what was “real”. When it would convert into the other side, it would become his magical side. In this magical world, he would become a very strong, indestructible teenager. He would defeat the bullies that he was too scared to in his real life.
Similar to the scene design, the costume design was very plain and simple also. There were too main color schemes: the unreal and the real. The “un-real” scheme consisted of blacks, whites, and greys. Characters that wore these colors would include Kinley since she took her own life and Jett’s dad (Dominick Briggs) who was killed by his wife (Olivia Blake) The “real” scheme consisted of reds, blues, and other bright colors. Characters that were real included Carver, at times, and Jett’s mom, Natalie (Olivia).
The characters were convincing and played their parts well. The fight scenes were very believable. However, there were a few too many fight scenes. Due to the fight scenes, it felt at times that this had more of a movie-feel than a play-feel.
At one point, Jett is reading his dad’s letter to him and reads “If this is all very confusing, that’s fine. But you have one more enemy to defeat.” This play was tremendously confusing. The plot was hard to follow as it would jump back and forth between real and fake. And because of the order of events, it was difficult to determine what was real and what was fake. It all blurred together. Also, there was a dance scene in the middle that was unnecessary. It didn’t contribute anything to the play and left the audience speechless with confusion. There were only a few things that were clear: Jett wasn’t normal and he had a psychological disorder and that Jett was fighting his sexuality.
The Magician had a good plot line, but needed to be expanded on or cleared up further. The audience was left with many unanswered questions. The characters weren’t engaging enough and left many with the feeling of so what?, why does it matter?, or who cares?.
The Magician Review
Introduction to Theatre
This month, UMD’s Stage 2 Theatre Company presented a world-premiere play titled The Magician. Written by UMD’s own Alex Goebel, The Magician provided new insights to social issues of today such as violence, LGBT matters, post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness, rape, and suicide. Directed by Erika Sasseville, this play follows a boy named Jett, a girl named Kinley, and a bully named Carver. Jett’s alter ego is a superhero-like figure who calls himself “The Magician”. The story is presented through a unique collection of real-time occurrences, flash-backs, and figments of the imagination. It began by presenting the audience with a mass of questions, then a few answers seem to be revealed. The ending leaves the audience with confusion of what is real and what is not.
The young actors that made up this cast provided believable characters. Alex Goebel’s younger brother Tyler Goebel starred as Jett. He was full of energy and appeared to be concentrated on the complexity of his character. Freshman Phil Hoelscher did an outstanding job developing both interpretations of his character Carver. In Jett’s imagination, Carver was a homosexual bully who was out to get Jett, but later it is revealed that Jett’s paranoia created that depiction because Carver raped Jett’s best friend Kinley. In actuality, Carver seems to be sexually confused guy who is made to feel the guilt of his past. Jett also revealed that Kinley committed suicide because of the fact.
Erika Sasseville tackled Goebel’s complicated script well. There were several violent fight scenes consisting of kicks, punches, slaps, yelling, and even a few entertaining cartwheels. The space was utilized well since it represented the numerous locations that the script called for such as a homeless shelter, busy city streets, and a hectic subway station.
Lighting design by Matt Dufault helped create setting and distinguished between real occurrences and figments of Jett’s imagination. During the figments, the lighting changed from colorful to black and white. There was also a scene where shadows were created so that Jett could fade into the darkness.
Costuming by Heather Olson helped show the complexity of each character. It was not as obvious as it could have been, but it seems as the costuming was a key to realizing which events were real and which were just delusions: the characters wearing color were real and the characters wearing black and white were figments of the imagination.
The ending of The Magician revealed hints about what was real, but it left the audience more confused than anything. It's possible that Jett and “The Magician” are figments of Carver’s imagine, driven by guilt. Maybe Jett committed suicide as well as his best friend Kinely. The only answer the ending revealed was that Jett’s father was an actual magician who was shot by Jett’s mother during a magic act.
Overall, Alex Goebel’s script could have provided more clarification and unification in order to add to the entertaining puzzle it served the audience. The Magician seemed to be more fitting for a movie screen than a theatre stage. Nevertheless The Magician was a unique play worth watching.
Intro to Theater
The Magician, written by Alex Goebel, premiered in the Dudley Theater last Thursday night. Goebel takes an interesting approach on the classic superhero story by creating the Magician. Jett, played by Tyler Goebel, takes on this role as the crime fighting hero. His female damsel in distress Kinley, played by Joslyn Danielson, is found to be in trouble from time to time throughout the play. The story takes place following Jett around the city as he tries to cope with his past, present, and future. He confronts abusive bullies, unpassionate parents, and himself. As Jett progresses though the play, the audience starts to see strange things start to happen. Although it is never stated, it appears that part of the production is being played out in Jett’s head.
The plot of this play is done in a non-chronological order is was very difficult to follow. Trying to determine what was real and what was fake proved difficult as the play progressed on without you. The story seemed to have a solid outline and has some true potential, but unfortunately could have been done a lot better. Personally, it felt like the play was written to be produced as a movie rather than a play. A lot of the scenery requirement couldn't have been met due to the high difficulty curve of the story. Trying to depict what is going on in someone’s mind can be quite a challenge on stage. The Stage 2 team did a great job with what they had in the Dudley Theater. Using unique lighting techniques, it was easier to tell what was fake.
Another key aspect that made sure this play would show success was the costume design. Jett’s outfit was a simple red sweatshirt accompanied by a blue undershirt. At first this doesn't seem like the outfit is unique, but after examining the rest of the cast’s outfits it appears that there is a deeper meaning. When the audience was witnessing Jett’s reality, all the characters on the stage were in color. On the opposite end, when he was the Magician everyone was in black and white. This is just a hypothesis, but all the evidence points to it being a possibility.
The play was rough around the edges and left the audience in a state of confusion. As a first time run through, the play did possess a good amount of strengths. The frame work of the story was solid and the characters has much depth. The costume design was very well done and added another layer to the play. Lastly, the play concluded with and ending that could have gone multiple directions. In this aspect, the audience was able to put their thoughts into what was seen making it more integrated. The play may not making it to the big stage in its current form, but in time with more revisions I believe that Alex Goebel will turn it into something amazing.
Stage Two’s world premiere production of The Magician, written by UMD student Alex Goebel, opened Thursday in the Dudley Experimental Theater at UMD. The play is a somewhat morbid twist on the classic superhero tale, centering on 17-year-old Jett Lucas (Tyler Goebel), his best friend Kinley (Joslyn Danielson), and their common “enemy”: a bully named Carver (Phil Hoelscher). As the play progresses, more about Jett’s troubled past comes back to haunt him as the audience discovers bits and pieces of what made him the way he is, and why he became the masked vigilante known as “The Magician”.
The storyline of the play was intriguing, but very confusing at times. It did not follow a traditional chronological order in which some background for the story is provided at the beginning, but rather the background was revealed slowly to the audience throughout the entire play. The order of the scenes seemed to jump somewhat haphazardly and was difficult to follow until the audience had a little more of a feel for what was going on, and could understand that the haphazardness was all a part of what was going on in Jett’s mind. Once that was more established, the erraticism of the play began to make a lot more sense and even added dimension to the overall production. At the end of the play, however, the lack of closure or clear explanations left the audience with more questions than answers.
The lighting was a huge part of the production, as the dimming and brightening signaled when reality shifted to the things going on only in Jett’s mind. When only a spotlight was shown on Jett, and there was the sound of an announcer and applause, it was clear that Jett was lapsing into some sort of hallucination. The changing lights were especially helpful in distinguishing when interactions between Jett and other characters were changing between his imagination and reality. The brightening and dimming of the lights were also a main part of The Magician’s tricks. The lights helped guide the audience in what would have been otherwise near impossible transitions, and shaped the whole mood and setting of the production.
As a “superhero” type story, many of the scenes were very action-dominated. Though the stage was very creaky and extremely loud whenever someone was thrown down, it added to the intensity of the fights. Though fight scenes can be extremely difficult with no special effects available, they were mostly well executed (with some minor mistakes and/or unnecessary flailing around) and interesting to watch. The actors made good use of the stage space when performing the action scenes.
In one of the first scenes between Jett and his mother Natalie (Olivia Blake), there was some pre-recorded dialogue played over what she was saying. While it was clear the recorded dialogue was meant to be what Jett was hearing in his head, playing it over the current dialogue made it difficult to understand what either was saying and added unnecessary confusion to the scene. There were other times when dialogue was overlapping or the music was too loud to hear the lines.
The scenes between Jett and his mother were played extremely well, and Goebel and Blake became so intense in the scenes that there was a palpable tension on stage between the characters. The scenes between Jett and Carver were also some of the best.
Though the script was very confusing at times, The Magician was a show that really got the audience thinking with its constant theme of “nothing is ever as it seems”. Even though there were many questions left unanswered about the play itself, the actors all performed well in their roles and made the play an interesting one to watch.
The Magician’s world premiere was held at the University of Minnesota Duluth and was written by one of their very own talented students, Alex Goebel. The show is about a troubled kid named Jett (played by Tyler Goebel) who has many family issues, and a bully named Carver (played by Phil Hoelscher). The only person that stands by him and protects him is his friend Kinley (played by Joslyn Danielson) and she is the one who puts the idea of the Magician in his head by sharing her fantasy of wanting a super hero to save her when she is in danger. At the end of this show it left the audience with slight confusion, but the possibility for them to interpret it as they may.
Tyler Goebel was touch and go in the beginning, but seemed to settle into his character as the show continued. He made the angry unappreciated child and the strong brave hero convincingly. Joslyn Danielson played the part of Kinley spectacularly by acting as the tough girl who can take care of herself while slowly exposing to Jett that she does in fact have a soft side. Phil Hoelscher stole the show easily with his transfer from himself to who Jett saw him as, just like turning a light switch from on to off.
The set for The Magician had many pros and cons. The idea for the projector projecting different types of windows, the graffiti, or the videos was a brilliant idea for adding to the set and helped make it so much better. The doors, the creaking stairs, and the fact that at times it was possible to hear the actors that weren’t onstage talking was very distracting from the show. The set seemed very simplistic, and could have been expanded so much more. The lights did a fantastic job at complimenting the show with the contrast from light to dark, and “allowing” the Magician to turn lights off, on and fade.
Overall, The Magician is an excellent show whose real-world theme and mind bending plot makes it a spectacular must see show. Everyone should see it. The fact that it was written by our very own Matt Goebel makes it even more impressive. The characters were believable and the actors did a wonderful job. If you don’t see The Magician, you will miss out on the best show of the year.
Stage 2’s world premiere production of The Magician is Alex Goebel’s first major production with the theatre group. With underlying themes of homosexual discrimination and homelessness, the play was exciting and very well put together for a show brought together in just under two weeks. Given the short time line Stage 2 had to put this show together, there are many positive aspects in the performance.
The Magician takes place in the style and format of a comic book brought to life. The main character, Jet Lucas, has an alter ego he calls The Magician. The most interesting and confusing part of the entire show was the plot. The play was confusing, but it was easy to at least distinguish the main characters and important aspects of their background. Towards the middle of the play, pieces start to fall into place, and audience members begin to make more sense of the actual story line. But as the show continues, several plot twists occur that leave the audience just as confused as when they first started watching.
Stage 2 utilized the Dudley Experimental stage at UMD, a small black-box theatre with limited seating and a small performance area. But Stage 2 very cleverly created the feel of a sprawling city, painting the walls with a dark skyline and the set flats with red brick. There were multiple doors, allowing the actors to come and go freely.
The lighting supported this ‘comic book hero’ idea. Directed properly, it gave the actors the sharp angles and edge of mysteriousness required for each personality. The villain was lighted from the bottom, giving him that menacing look, where as the hero was lighted from the top, giving him the look like he was rising up.
Choreographed fight scenes were also an important part of the production. Given the limited amount of time to the actors had to learn these moves, and while they felt a bit cheesy, it was certainly entertaining to watch the fights unfold on stage. The actors should be applauded for their ability to throw themselves around on stage while not actually hurting themselves or each other.
The costumes were simple in appearance but crucial to the story line of The Magician. The story revolved around the question of what is real and what is fictional, and a way to tell the difference was in the change in costume. Color represented reality, whereas black and white belonged to the fictional realm. With one change in costume, the character took on an entirely different persona which is an important underlying theme in the show.
As a whole, the play was exciting and confusing. Who was really the villain, and who was the hero? Who was alive, and who was dead? Was The Magician Jet’s reality or fantasy? Was Jet gay, and if so, how does this affect his decisions, along with the Magician’s? To put it simply, it’s up to the audience to draw their own conclusions. Many could consider this lack of clear plot resolution a weakness, but if it did anything, Stage 2’s production of The Magician certainly sparked interesting and excited conversations about the topic, which in its own way was a success.
"The Magician" was written by Alex Goebel and the play seems very modern to todays life in the year 2013. The Director is Erika Sasseville and the play was at the Dudley Theatre at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and was seen Saturday, November 23rd at 7:15 pm. Goefel's production of "The Magician" made me sympathize with the notion of poverty and homosexuality. Without the sympathy, the play would have failed to portray a problem that is occurring throughout America.
Poverty and homosexuality seems to be an issue through america and this show showed the strangles of that who go through this. The play captured the loneliness, the sadness and confusion that this issue has. Jet throughout the entire play seemed confused, lonely and mentally lost throughout his best friend and Jet was a prime example of this reoccurring issue because he was in poverty and was a gay young man.
The acting of "The magician" didn't feel real, it seemed like a lot of yelling and fighting. It was easier to empathize this the information given outside of the theatre then the actual play. No real emotion seemed to be put into the play with the acting, so it was hard to have true emotions from the play. The director wanted the audience to have a better understanding of the struggles of being homosexual and in poverty, but the only real and emotional information given was through the poster that was presented outside of the theatre (which I said before).
The costumes someone helped the audience understand when reality was and when things were occurring in Jets mind. It was hard to catch that from the play, but after talking to my fellow classmates, I understood that when performer(s) wore black and white it was in Jet's mind and when the performer(s) wore clothes with color it was reality.
As a whole Goele did a good job, but there is still work that needs to be done. There were so many questions that were unanswered and it was still hard to figure out what is real and what is not. Also the ending of the play made it even more confusing. Whose mind was it really in? Who was a good guy and who was a bad guy? Did Jet's dads death an accident or real? Was Jet dead the whole time? Was his mother real? There are so many questions and did not answers to all of the thoughts that go through my head.
My fellow classmates seemed to feel that same way and this was shown during class on Monday, November 25. Everyone seemed to have many questions and even the instructor thad questions for us to see what we had to say. He was just as lost in the dark as we were. From what was said before, it was a good performance but there is still work that needs to be done. Maybe add more detail or just lay the information right on the table so that there are no questions to be asked.
The Magician made its world premiere right here at University of Minnesota-Duluth’s own Dudley Experimental Theater on November 21. Alex Goebel, one of UMD’s very own student, was the playwright for this edgy-type play which featured the main-character, Jett Lucas, played by Tyler Goebel, and his battle with love, bullies, and a dysfunctional home all while jumping back and forth from reality to figments of his imagination.
The lighting featured throughout the play is something that impressed me. The way they transitioned from reality back to Jett Lucas’s imagination, where the protagonist of the play was the voice in his head, they would change the light from the regular light used initially on stage to white LED lights giving the stage a sort of limbo setting. The method in which they choose to change the dimension in which Jett Lucas was in made it very easy to follow the setting.
One thing that made the play a bit confusing was the set of the play. The set featured a brick wall and a door which a bench nearby. Though scenes in which the setting was established in the dialogue were easy to understand visually, some scenes the setting was not clearly defined in the dialogue and there were very few props on stage which made it hard to understand the scene.
The set of the play did have some technical elements to it that made the play a bit interesting. The opening of the play featured a video projected onto a slab cut of the set wall in where Jett Lucas is first introduced to the audience and the title screen is shown. This video projection came to me as a surprise but also was a cool element in that it built up the suspense with a voice-over speech by Jett Lucas leading to the opening scene
Tyler Goebel, playing main character Jett Lucas, was an intriguing character. It was as though the play was written for him to be casted. He was a convincing character in which you could see his transition from a hopeless and helpless kid to a confident, crime-fighting superhero. He showed a lot of emotion in his delivery and seemed to have a lot of experience on stage for a 1st year student here at UMD.
The plays best element I believe is the fact that it is a different superhero story than the clique spiderman love story. The play starts out with the notion that the direction is headed to that of the typical superhero love story but soon to be discovered it is really a story about a young, homeless boy struggling with himself and his regrets concerning the death of his best-friend, which is unknown until the last few scenes. The play keeps you guessing why the play’s protagonist, Carver, played by Phil Hoelscher, is the voice that keeps haunting Jett Lucas mind.
Overall the play was intriguing and interesting. It keeps you questioning and forces you to stay until the play is over because you want to know answers. The cast did a very good job portraying their characters with what little stage they had to work with. I would love to see what this play could do with a thicker budget and full production.
The Magician was the most recent production of the Stage 2 theater company. It was written by Alex Goebel, a UMD senior, and directed by Erika Sasseville. The production is a psychological thriller centered on the characters Jett (Tyler Goebel), Kinely (Joslyn Danielson), and Carver (Phil Hoelscher).
The character Jett appeared to be a psychologically unstable youth. His fantasy world dominates his everyday reality, and leads him to see and hear self-projected images. Because the world in which the audience is introduced is in fact Jett’s fantasy world, it is chaotic and dysfunctional. The actions contained within the play are just as confusing and disturbing as a post traumatic fantasy. As the play was unraveled, it became confusing to an even greater degree. This confusion is brought on by the multitude of characters that appeared to have more than one personality. This was namely the case with Kinely and Carver.
These two supporting characters appeared to be the cause of much of Jett’s emotional wreckage. It is unclear whether either is an actual person, or just another image in Jett’s mind. Kinely, being introduced as Jett’s best friend, is a young female that is routinely assaulted. These assaults occur at the hand of random strangers in act 1, and are orchestrated by a coalition of deviants, whose leader is Carver, in act 2.
The character Carver is seen in two different lights. He appears both as an evil tyrant and then again as a sweet natured young man. In act 1, Carver forced Jett to the ground and beat him bloody; while this occurred, he was insistently telling Jett how much he loved him. Later in the play, Carver meets Jett on the streets and is nothing but nice. Carver proceeds to exchange pleasantries and even ask after Jett, as if they were happy acquaintances rather than arch enemies. During their encounter, Jett claimed to have talked with Kinely, and this clearly shocked and disturbed Carver. This sequence of events brought into question whether either character, Kinely or Carver, was actually real.
As the play progressed through act 2 many of the scenes involved combat. This was extraordinarily cheesy and very out of place. From act 1 to act 2 the story seemed to completely flip. The plot appeared somewhat linear in act 1, but act 2 introduces a multitude of random characters and seemly pointless scenes. Act 2 just further increased the confusion surrounding the entire production.
The timeline consisted of scenes within reality, scenes within fantasy, and scenes contained within flashbacks. The storyline and timeline were polar opposites, and nothing seemed to flow. It was hard to care about the characters or even understand them; it couldn’t be discerned what was actually happening. The story needs some serious reworking. If the audience was to actually understand what was happening and how the separate scenes interacted, the play could actually be somewhat enjoyable.
As it was, the production was incredibly boring, confusing, and almost downright dreadful. This was no fault of the actors, but rather something that should be reviewed by both the writer and director. All in all, the play was not worth the five dollars spent. It needs some serious revision before the tragedy could actually elicit an emotional response from anyone.
Introduction to Theatre Arts
The Magician made its premiere into the world of theater on Thursday, November 21 at UMD’s Dudley Experimental Theatre. The performance was produced by the University’s Stage 2, a student run production company, and was written by UMD senior Alex Goebel. After years of writing, Goebel was finally able to see his play performed on stage. As an inexperienced playwright, Goebel did a fine job at composing an interesting plot with deep themes. Yet, the play was overall confusing, distracting, rigid, and seemed ill-prepared.
The main character of The Magician is seventeen year old Jett (Tyler Goebel) who lives on the streets with his best friend Kinley (Joslyn Danielson) as he fights drugs, bullies and villains, and, ultimately, himself. Throughout the play, we watch as Jett slowly loses his mind to an alter reality where his heroic alter-ego, The Magician, battles villains and the main antagonist of the story, Carver (Phil Hoelscher), in order to save Kinley. As the play progresses, Jett (along with the audience) slowly loses his ability to distinguish his imagination from what is really happening and who is really even there. The central theme of the play poses a question of how we know whether or not what we are seeing and perceiving as reality is actually real.
The design of The Magician was very clever and creative, yet still left us confused at times. The set of the play was a black painted outline of the city scape with two brick walls in front of it; each wall had one door. As simple as this setup was, it was almost too simple for the many, many scene changes that took place throughout the performance. At times, it was near impossible to determine just exactly where the scene was taking place. The lighting, however, spectacularly assisted in distinguishing between reality, imagination, and location of each scene. The scenes that appeared to be reality were in normal lighting and the scenes that supposedly took place in Jett’s imagination were lighted with very white, contrasting lights. Also, a projection was used on one of the walls to help determine location in each scene. The costumes of the play followed the same ideas as the lighting where the characters that were real were dressed in color and the characters that were a figure of Jett’s imagination were dressed in neutral colors.
Overall, the play seemed as though it had been written for film rather than for the stage. The technical special effects, flashbacks, numerous fight scenes, and random dance scene, all appeared as though they would be much more fitting on the big screen and just slightly too far-fetched for theater. With revision, The Magician could possibly make a come-back on stage or even as an independent film.
University of Minnesota Duluth's Stage 2 production of The Magician was interesting to say the least. While the show was somewhat confusing, the actors and designers did an excellent job with Alex Goebel's script.
The actors in The Magician did a very good job. Tyler Goebel, for instance, brought the main character of this show to life. Jett, a seventeen year old boy, is dealing with some incredibly deep issues; the suicide of his best friend, which he unintentionally brought about; fighting against his homosexuality; the fact that he is attracted to the person who raped the same best friend; and the suicide of his father. T. Goebel used these conflicts to fuel his character, and that showed on stage. Joslyn Danielson, who played Kinley, acted out her part as the "beautiful badass" with proficiency. Moreover, the actor who portrayed the character Natalie, Olivia Blake, displayed her talent by creating a believable character. The glowing gem of the show, however, was Phil Hoelscher, who depicted the character Carver. Hoelscher created an evil villain that was incredibly easy and natural to hate. Danielson, Blake, and Hoelscher's performances were confusing at first, but as it was slowly revealed that certain scenes were warped by Jett's mind.
The designers also helped make this show a success. The scenic designer, Solveig Bloomquist, although limited by the budget of Stage 2, created a set that matched the play. The most notable parts of the set were the realistic brickwork and the comic book like cityscape that covered the back wall of the Dudley Theatre. In addition to the set, the projections added to the superhero themes of the show. The projections, which was designed by Wesley Darton, included an opening movie that established the superhero theme of the show, and different backgrounds to add to the scenic design. The lighting design also added to The Magician. The lighting, which was designed by Matt Dufault, filled each scene with the correct ambiance. The lighting also helped establish when scenes were seen as they actually are as opposed to the way that Jett sees them. The sound, which was designed by Nicholas Haeg, helped to set the mood for many of the scenes. From subway and city ambiance to play throughout the scene, to the epic superhero music that opened the show, the sounds helped progress the show.
Alex Goebel’s dream of having a play, written by him, be carried out finally came to fruition last week at UMD with help from Stage 2. Under the direction of Erika Sasseville, this young and new play made many of the audience think, laugh a little, and think even more. The play follows a young boy named Jett (played by Alex’s younger brother Tyler Goebel) as he moves through his hard life, living on the street, having a mom who isn’t always there for him, drugged up friends, and a bully who isn’t cemented on either side of his sexuality. Throughout all of his struggles, he tries to learn about himself and what is happening in his mind. This whole fight to figure out who he is also goes on in the audiences minds, as they try to figure out how all of the scenes fit together in the story.
That all being said, the story plays out in almost an awkward way. Since the play skips around so much, it’s very hard to really pin point out what is really happening. The change from reality to fiction happens so fast that the audience gets caught in every scene. When the play moves on to the next scene, everyone watching is still thinking about how it connects to the story as a whole. Then the next scene introduces so many more questions and it all makes an enormous challenge for those watching. Even for some parts, they seemed like they were unneeded and were jut fillers but still made the audience wonder if they were important to the story line as a whole. An example of this would be when Jett talks to Andy. I thought that maybe there would be a part of the play that would reference Andy’s sexuality but the two brought it up and didn’t speak of it again. As I said, many parts seemed added as fillers.
There was a lot of good acting in the play though. The part that I found the most convincing would have to be Carver. Played by Phil Hoelscher, Carver was Jett’s bully. Carver really knew how to push Jett’s buttons and get him really riled up. Although he looked a little awkward holding on to a pistol, he made up for it with his incessant punching and beating/hitting on Jett. Phil almost made me feel uncomfortable when he flirted with Jett and mock raped him on the ground. Tyler Goebel also played a good confused teenager with that little bit of spunk needed for the role. He played it really well with all of the anger that had built up for years inside Jett.
Although there could have been a few less fight scenes and a bit more devotion to the plot itself, this was a pretty good play. I think it still needs a bit of revisions though. After a bit more work on it, I could see this play going pretty far and Alex making a name for himself in the writing world.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on November 22, 2013 10:37 AM.
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