Getting into character with Anna Schwarz
as God of Carnage comes to the Nicolet Theatre
Having performed in nine different productions with the Nicolet Players, Anna Schwarz is one of the most experienced actors with the theater troupe today.
And for play number 10 she’ll need to dig deep and muster up every bit of her previous experiences to pull off her most challenging role yet.
In early November, she’ll take to the Nicolet stage and become Veronica in the Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage.
“Veronica is a very intense and complicated character with all of these different layers to her personality,” Schwarz explained.
Premiering on Broadway in 2009, the play is a study of two sets of upper-middle class New York parents who try to resolve a playground spat started by their children, only to find that a resolution is far from easy. The wives and husbands find their lives and emotions torn open for all to see in the attempt to resolve their children's conflict.
“As raw as the story can be, I think the audience will really be able to see parts of themselves in the characters at times,” Schwarz explained. “We’re all human with many good traits and perhaps some that are less than desirable when they’re expressed in the heat of the moment. I’m guessing there will be moments when people will be able to say, ‘Been there.’”
Along with making her character come alive, another challenge will be that all four characters appear on stage for the entire duration of the hour-and-a-half-long play with no intermission.
“In every other play I’ve been in you’d get a break when you weren’t in a scene, a chance to rest and regroup before you went back out. But not this one,” she said. “All of us are on stage all of the time.”
That in itself posed a special casting challenge for Nicolet Theatre Director Jim Nuttall. He knew he needed an ensemble that was up for the task.
“During auditions it all came down to chemistry,” Nuttall explained. “You see different personalities, different approaches to specific characters. Who works best with who? That was the challenge for me, matching up the right people to create that chemistry.”
Another factor for the actors will be stamina: physically, mentally, and emotionally to be on stage and in character for that long.
“It will be a challenge,” he said. “But I know the four people in the cast can pull this off and do so with flying colors.”
Along with Schwarz, from Rhinelander, others in the cast are KC Hofer, Hazelhurst, Amanda Stroede, Rhinelander, and Justin Tucker, Wabeno.
By the end of the two months of rehearsals, they’ll have been on stage more than 100 hours together, honing their roles and sharpening the dynamics between the characters.
Nuttall noted that with the intensity of the interactions will come some strong language that one doesn’t normally encounter in a Nicolet Players production. There’s also a comedic aspect to many scenes where “good intentions quickly disintegrate into a ‘comedy of no manners.’”
He compared the storyline to the type of comedy common on the hit network television show Everybody Loves Raymond, albeit a cable version with rougher language at times “A lot of it is rooted in conflict. But when done right, it’s hilarious.”
Even though it’s been a lot of work, Schwarz said she’s been having a great time working with the other cast members to bring all of the pieces together.
“It’s work that I just love doing,” she said. “It’s not always easy, but there’s this incredible sense of accomplishment when you really connect with the other actors and the audience to create this entirely make believe world.”
Perhaps her greatest example of this to date was when Schwarz performed in Outside Mullingar in spring of 2016.
“My dad came to see the play, and he said at one point he forgot he was watching his daughter on stage. I almost cried.”
Performances for God of Carnage will take place in the Nicolet College Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 9 to 11, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, Nov. 5 and 12.
Beer and wine will be available at Bytes next to the theater before each performance.
Tickets are $7 and $9 and can be purchased on line at nicoletlive.com or by calling (715) 365-4646.