Titus Andronicus Presented By COS Performing Arts

Oct 11, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Theatre

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Titus Andronicus opens this Thursday at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. It is adapted and directed by Chris Mangels and Brittney Martorana. Recently, we chatted with Brittney Martorana. She is a COS Theatre Arts Department alumna who has worked on many shows at COS. This is her directorial debut.

KRL: What is this show about and did you adapt it yourself?

Brittney: Titus Andronicus is about two people and their unrelenting need for vengeance, as well as the generational trauma that inflicts. As a whole, the show is very much a “nightmare” and an absolute wild ride, making this Shakespeare’s most gruesome tragedy. The show was adapted by myself and the mastermind, Chris Mangels.

KRL: Why was this particular show chosen?

Brittney: Last spring the department held a discussion forum with students where they talked about what kind of shows they’d be interested in seeing/working on. Overwhelmingly what they heard was “HORROR!” This show definitely fits that category. That said, this play also has some very powerful themes we wanted to explore. While adapting, Chris and I wanted to be sure we were being true to the original piece while also telling a story that would resonate with a modern audience. One of the biggest shifts we did was to consolidate some smaller characters into one, and shift the gender of many of the originally male characters to female.

KRL: I noticed on the COS website that it says that this is Shakespeare’s most gruesome tale, did you decide to do this now during Halloween season for that reason?

Brittney: Of course! What a perfect time to do a thriller while everyone is in the spooky mood.

KRL: What was the hardest part about directing this show? What was the most fun?

Brittney: I would say exploring the over-the-top action and ‘ridiculousness’ of these characters was the most challenging part. Once we cast the show and began to guide the actors, we found that each person brought something extra special to the role. Because of that, Chris and I were sprouting new ideas all the time.

KRL: Who is in the show?

Brittney: We have a very special group! A lot of brand-new students, some returning students, and a few incredible community members. Some of the leads include Robert Langarica as Titus, Jennifer Powers as Tamora, Daniel Moore as Saturninus, Richie Wojtun as Mirta, John Piper as Lucius, and Angelica Martinez as Lavinia. We have loved watching all these people learn from each other and collaborate to bring this show to life.

KRL: What will the set and costumes be like and are those being done by COS students?

Brittney: COS has an absolutely stellar group of designers made up of the COS Theatre arts faculty and staff. The set was designed by Chris Mangels, the costume design by James McDonnell, the lighting design by Nick Terry, and the sound design by Chris Mangels and myself. We also have some students taking on assistant design work with Anu Perry designing projections, Richie Wojtun and Jennifer Lomeli Moran designing props, and Lee Renteria designing the horror special effects. The world of this production is very much inspired by the kind of Roman architecture seen in US Federal Government Building but the setting of the show is reminiscent of post-World War II.

KRL: What are the dates and times of the performances and location?

Brittney: Evening performances will be on October 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, at 7 p.m. The single matinee will be on Sunday, October 15, at 1 p.m. The show will be presented at the COS Theatre on the corner of Mooney and Kaweah in Visalia.

KRL: How much are the tickets and how do you purchase them?

Brittney: Tickets are $14 for the public, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students.
On Friday the 13th, we are featuring our ‘Lucky 13’ special with public tickets going for $13. On Thursday the 19th, we will have student tickets for $5, with an Audience Talk-Back with the cast and crew following the performance.

Seating is reserved and tickets are available online right now at COS.ticketleap.com/Titus. Tickets are also available at the COS Theatre
Box Office beginning 45-minutes prior to each performance.

KRL: Anything else you would like to share?

Brittney: We are absolutely thrilled to share this production with local audiences but we do want to stress that it is intended for Mature Audiences (Ages 16 and up). It features some intense scenes of horror and violence and themes of sexual assault. It is the perfect Halloween show, but it is also very intense.

Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. And don’t miss out on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where we feature mystery stories read by local actors!

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!<


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