Butterfly’ soars with spirit

Trisha McGrenera

A synthetic spiderweb crafted from string and cellophane tape stretches across one end of the Shanley Pavilion. CDs, photographs and other symbols of technology dangle from the sticky silken threads. At the other end, a low platform rests in front of a simple black cloth backdrop.

The visual contrast between the two sides of the set of Entity’s spring show, “The Butterfly,” embodies the title character’s struggle to find equilibrium in an environment filled with the conflict between technology and nature.

The play’s script, written in Farsi by Bijan Mofid, an acclaimed Iranian poet, is based on a Persian folk tale. But director Josh Adler altered the play from a children’s story into something a little deeper to attract an older audience. His “Butterfly” focuses more on subcultures and the idea of acceptance.

Adler, a Speech senior, uses the concept of a butterfly’s metamorphosis to represent an individual’s search for personal fulfillment. In order to reach this goal, the butterfly struggles through the confusion of the clash between the natural and artificial world.

In the play, the butterfly journeys through a dark barn where she is confronted with various subcultures. To complete her spiritual metamorphosis, Adler said, she ultimately must embrace the different subcultures.

The dominant subculture the butterfly encounters is a gothic-punk culture, which is represented by the techno-synthetic concept in the scenery, he said.

“The butterfly finds herself confronted with people on the periphery of society,” Adler said. “The barn is a place where different subcultures can find refuge, and she is forced to open herself up to them to become whole.”

One way Adler developed his production beyond the scope of Mofid’s script was to incorporate visual art, dance and music into the piece.

Adler’s production uses visual components in the scenery to draw the audience into the story. Cast member Micah Wylie called the piece an example of “environmental theater,” saying that Adler’s goal was to make Shanley Pavilion “become” the barn described in the story so the audience members can feel that they actually are viewing the play from the inside of a barn. This was achieved by the intricate web and its contrast with the simplified set on the other side of the theater.

“It creates a more personal environment with the audience,” said Wylie, a Speech junior.

Wylie also said much of the storytelling is achieved through “movement work” using the actors’ bodies. The play features modern dance and jazz, among other forms of dance, as a basis for telling the story through movement. In one scene, the spider performs a modern dance, writhing and moving his limbs jerkily to the techno-style music, to convey his shifty personality to the audience.

In addition to dance, Adler said the play uses both live classical cello music and live electronic music, spun by a D.J., to underscore the conflict between nature and technology.

Cast member Joshua Goldenberg described the music, which was composed originally for the show, as beautiful music played by a cellist and performed simultaneously with “crazy, in-your-face hard beats” spun by the DJ.

“It’s all so many things at once and it just comes out and hits the audience,” said Goldenberg, a Speech freshman.

But Adler’s incorporation of social themes in the play is even more important than the artistic components because they take the piece’s meaning beyond the reach of the children’s play. Wylie said this infusion of social themes has made Adler’s version of the play more relevant to the audience than the children’s version was.

“He’s very interested in displaying the (play’s) darker themes,” Wylie said. “He’s taken a text for a younger audience and made it richer with social implications.”

Adler also has woven his version of the mythical folk tale, making it more relevant to today’s audiences. By adding this deeper layer, he makes this show more than just butterflies and spiderwebs. nyou