“Donnie Q” Graces King Theater: A New Take on Don Quixote
by The Milton Measure on Friday, June 10th, 2016
From the get-go, Donnie Q established itself as a lively, zany production. How many shows promote themselves by performing a routine to Rihanna’s “Work” at a Thursday morning assembly? Shane Fuller, a faculty member of Milton’s Performing Arts department, was the scriptwriter and mastermind behind Donnie Q.
The play is a mash up between Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote and popular television series The Office. The play takes place in a collection of cubicles, similar to the setting of The Office. The plot follows Donnie Q, the head of a big corporation’s accounting department, as he scrambles to complete a financial report for his boss.
Over the course of a year, Donnie Q had immersed himself in medieval literature. After he loses his self-control due to his job’s pressure, he decides to become a knight, like the ones he had read about. Miguel de Cervantes and a band of magicians use their magical meddling to create Donnie Q’s fantasy, and he then embarks on a series of events inspired by Don Quixote.
The play’s gripping plot was invigorated by its talented and imaginative cast. The two main characters, Donnie Q and Sancho Panza, were played by Chris Wilbur (II) and Cheyenne Porcher (II), respectively. Since Donnie Q had never been performed before, the cast had no clear roadmap to guide them. While such freedom can be daunting, the entire cast, especially the lead roles, used it beautifully; each of them brought zeal, passion, and artistry to the stage.
Whenever the cast members read through the script, each member shared his or her opinion on the content. Chris Wilbur exclaimed that the fact that “the play’s format left room for opinion and interpretation, along with the fact that [the cast] was the first to ever put on the show” made Donnie Q so remarkable. Every actor had a voice in regards to the script’s content and helped create an inventive blend of perspectives. The lead roles were integral in embodying the script’s fantastical spirit.
Of course, such an unprecedented script and talented cast required a versatile set to complement them. The stage was located in the middle of King Theatre with two levels of seating on three sides. Chris Wilbur explained that “the stage’s location created a level of intimacy by bringing everyone to roughly the same distance from the actors.” The positioning of the stage allowed every audience member to see the cast’s intricate actions and reactions. The audience was brought even closer to the set when objects flew into the crowd because this action broke the conventional barrier between the two.
As the play progressed, the set constantly shifted and evolved until its eventual destruction in a dramatic, final battle scene. In the Don Quixote-inspired duel, Donnie Q imagines he is a knight, as fans and other office materials are haphazardly strewn about. According to Christy Zheng (IV), who worked on the set, “An office is often portrayed as a peaceful place, and [Donnie Q incorporated] one’s imagination to create an intense battlefield.” Ordinary objects were transformed into weapons and pieces of armor, and this metamorphosis is a testament to the wild creativity of Donnie Q’s stagecraft. After a moment of chaotic darkness, the lights were raised to reveal the wreckage of the fight. The light board, set, and props created the perfect environment for such an action-packed show.
Donnie Q’s distinctive plot and impressive execution were met with glowing reviews. Countless audience members left the show feeling exhilarated by the production. Many appreciated the connection established between the crowd and the actors, one of Donnie Q’s defining traits. “It was an interesting twist on a classic Spanish story, full of energy and emotion,” said Christine Char (IV). When asked what it was like to be part of the play, Chris Wilbur said, “Donnie Q was unlike any other show I have been in.” This perspective perfectly encapsulates Donnie Q– a comical, imaginative, and dynamic production that will not be forgotten.
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