Gregor and the Squonk Coming Soon to the Stage Center Theatre


Photo by Pablo Medina

“Gregor and The Squonk” will hit the Stage Center Theatre on Feb. 19.

Pablo Medina, Editor

William Shakespeare once said of the world of theatre, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” For the colorful group assembled for Gregor and the Squonk, Shakespeare’s words echoed in their performance.

The cast for the upcoming play, Gregor and the Squonk, began performing rehearsals for preview in NEIUs Stage Center Theatre in the first week of February. From 7:00 to 10:00 in the evening, the highly motivated actors entered into the new cut of the script, fresh from the hands of the playwright himself, Daniel Caffrey, and sculpted the flow of the play together with their charisma and verbal execution.

Caffrey, in his theatre company Tympanic, created the play years ago in Chicago. Centered on the folk tale of the Squonk, a mythical creature associated with unsightliness and solitude, the tale is connected to a dark, modern and humorous view on beauty and love, with rich development in characters and a complexly interwoven plot based on the characters’ personal tales.

As the play had gone through a few changes between productions, Caffrey incorporated many refinements to the script and the action on the stage, which were influenced by adlibbed moments during the rehearsals. The themes of the original production had remained, though Caffrey preferred to balance them out for the new production. He said, “The message in the original draft, when we originally did it, was more anti-plastic surgery or anti-superficiality…. my goal for the play is not for people to walk away from this and say ‘Plastic surgery is bad.'”

Angela Sweigart-Gallagher, the executive director for the play, had an interest upon viewing the script and meeting the playwright. Gallagher admitted to having this play become, “the first fairy tale, particularly for adults, that [I] had ever directed, but this is the second time [I] have directed a new play with a new playwright that’s part of the process.”

Gregor and the Squonk had been a new ambitious piece for Gallagher to present to both the public and the playwright, and had taken inspiration from Caffrey’s first production. Gallagher stressed that the play has “something to say about how we think about beauty, how we judge ourselves harshly, how sometimes we don’t see the beauty in us that other people see…” and that it contains a charm that is well-presented with young people who are still “forging their own identities.”

One of the most notable differences between productions was the newly incorporated music score developed by Tyler Miles, an actor and also a rising pianist and composer in NEIU’s music department. Miles sought to develop music for plays in his experience as a theatre major, and Gregor and the Squonk became one of the first titles under his musical belt.

For an entry-level experience, he commented on how different it felt to compose music for live theatre. “In video games and movies you can do whatever you want, but in theatre, you have to be really subtle.” The script of the play, however, allowed Miles to flourish with his musicianship in the performances. “When I first read it, my first thought was ‘There’s all these monologues that are totally like songs!'” Miles said. He confessed that he often overwrote music for certain parts, mostly to allow for the reworking of new songs in the themes.

“Gregor and the Squonk” will debut on Feb. 19 with a 7:30 p.m. showing. Evening performances continue through Feb. 21 and Feb. 26 – 28, and there will be an additional showing on Feb. 28 at 2:00 p.m.

The play will feature Tyler Wynd as Gregor, Mary Sobielski as Margaret and Elise Adams as the Squonk, under the directing chair of Angela Sweigart Gallagher.