Title

American Rusałki

Playwright/Composer

Christopher Lysik

Director

Kayla Adams

Music Director

Olivia Gould

Dramaturg

Rebecca Weaver

Stage Manager

Sophie Young

Category

Production, Thayer Theatre

First Rehearsal

March 28

Load In/Tech /Dress

April 30 – May 1

Performances

May 2

Roles to be cast

Age (Presentation)

Gender (Presentation)

Description

(Note: Voice ranges are approximate)

Bronisława

Late 20’s

Female

A rusałka; elder sister to Wioletta (ALTO)

Wioletta

Early 20’s

Female

Also a rusałka; younger sister to Bronisława (SOPRANO)

Margaret

Late 40’s or Early 50’s

Female

Been around the block a few times; Jack’s wife (ALTO)

 Jack

Early 30’s

Male

Trying his best despite his youth; Margaret’s husband (BARITONE)

Esther

22

Female

More than just the daughter of a wealthy landowner (SOPRANO)

Benjamin/Dr. Oliver/Thomas’s Figure

Mid to Late 40’s

Male

One bad dude. (BASS)

Thomas

15

Male-presenting, non-binary

A caretaker at their core (TENOR)

Synopsis

Northern Rhode Island, 1830s. The Blackstone River runs through the woods of a small, rural town... and there’s Something in the water.

Notices

American Rusałki is a play with music, based in dark Polish and American folklore. Within this context, there are discussions/depictions of murder, suicide, self-harm, weaponization of religion, animal sacrifice, infant illness/mortality, and the supernatural.

 

INTIMACY BREAKDOWN

Page

Stage Direction/Planned Action

Characters

Notes

2

A man appears in the shadows. One of the women approaches him, and they begin to make love. Over the following lines, we see the woman turn, revealing she has become pregnant. The man, enraged, goes to hit her, but the second woman steps in. A struggle occurs, and the man overpowers them both. We watch as he drowns them in a River. 

Benjamin, Bronisława, Wioletta

Stylized, in silhouette  

3

In the darkness: the form of a Man, stumbling drunk through the Woods. He finds the right tree, unbuttons, pulls out his dick, and starts to take a piss. 

Benjamin

No nudity shown

9

Wioletta grabs him by the crotch. 

 

WIOLETTA Look at that! You are a man. 

 

She gives him a little squeeze. 

 

WIOLETTA And a sizable one at that.

Wioletta, Benjamin

 

12

Wioletta kisses him. 

BENJAMIN No...
 I don’t suppose she Would. 

And he kisses back. It grows. They go to the ground, beside the River bank. She unbuttons his shirt, takes it off. They continue to kiss. She rolls him over, climbs on top. As she starts to undo his pants, though, she... 

Begins to tickle him. 

He’s confused for a moment, but begins to laugh. It continues for a while, even as he starts to lose his breath. He tries to tap out... 

BENJAMIN Hey... Hey— Stop! 

She Doesn’t stop, though, and suddenly another pair of hands reaches out of the River, joining in. It takes him a moment to realize, but a glint of terror shoots across his face. 

He looks back to the original woman, but... she’s changed. Her hair is Green, her skin is peeling flesh. He tries to scream, but the new hands cover his mouth. Together, the women grab him— and pull him Deep into the River. 

 

Benjamin, Bronisława, Wioletta

 

25

Jack puts the Baby down, and begin to kiss Margaret, but almost immediately the child starts crying again. Margaret picks her up, and cradles her. Jack holds them both close. 

Jack, Margaret

 

30

Jack leans over and begins to give Margaret a Kiss, but she pulls away a little. 

Jack, Margaret

 

32

She undoes her gown. As she prepares to try to feed her child, part of the baby’s blanket falls, and we see that the red spots on her back have spread across her entire body. Margaret pays no mind, and presses her child to her breast. The baby refuses to latch. Margaret grows emotional, 

Margaret

No nudity shown

34

Esther looks like she is about to continue, then breaks down into Sobs. Margaret isn’t quite sure what to do. She sits down next to Esther and... begins to stroke her nose? Yeah, that’s Something? 

Esther, Margaret

 

36

Esther falls into Margaret’s lap, and stays there. 

Margaret thinks for a moment about the Terrible things Benjamin did to her. She considers saying, “Yes, it makes Perfect sense he would do that to you.” 

But, instead, she wraps her arms around Esther and says... 

MARGARET I know.
 It’s Okay, Darling, it’s... I know.

Esther, Margaret

 

80

Bronisława reaches over and plucks a few tall pieces of grass from the Riverbank. She twists them together to strengthen them, then uses the rope to tie Esther’s hair back. 

ESTHER That’s better. 

BRONISŁAWA Yes. It is. 

They begin to lean in. Esther prepares to be kissed— but at the last moment, Bronisława pulls away. Instead, she intertwines arms with Esther. She presses their palms together, then with her other hand, traces the arms, neck, face, and lips of Esther. It is extraordinarily sensual. 

Esther, Bronisława

 

114

Thomas steps into the River, submerging themself entirely. They stay there, for many minutes. 

And Finally... the surface of the water breaks, and the Body of Thomas is Lifted, Gentle, out of the River, by Wioletta. 

She carries Thomas to shore, and lays them down. The Rusałka puts her head on Thomas’s chest, and she weeps. 

Thomas, Wioletta

 

115

Margaret nurses her child, as Jack sits peacefully beside her. 

 

Margaret, Jack

 

128

The rage continues to boil in Margaret. But then...she looks at Jack, and at her baby, and she begins to soften. She gathers Both in her arms, and holds them tight. 

Margaret, Jack

 

130

With Jack’s help, she rises to her feet. She kisses him, then her Baby. And then... she walks into the River.

Margaret

 

131

From down the River, Wioletta emerges. With her, is Thomas. She holds their hand, the way she might a small child. Thomas spies the baby. 

THOMAS Mama! 

Thomas buries their face in Wioletta’s side. She holds them close to her. 

Thomas, Wioletta

 

132

Thomas drops Wioletta’s hand, then creeps over to the child. Silently, sweetly, they take the lifeless child, from Jack’s arms, and kisses her forehead. 

Thomas, Jack

 

 

 

FIGHT BREAKDOWN

 

Page

Stage Direction/Planned Action

Characters

Notes

2

A man appears in the shadows. One of the women approaches him, and they begin to make love. Over the following lines, we see the woman turn, revealing she has become pregnant. The man, enraged, goes to hit her, but the second woman steps in. A struggle occurs, and the man overpowers them both. We watch as he drowns them in a River. 

Benjamin, Bronisława, Wioletta

Stylized, in silhouette 

12

Wioletta kisses him. 

BENJAMIN  No...
 I don’t suppose she Would. 

And he kisses back. It grows. They go to the ground, beside the River bank. She unbuttons his shirt, takes it off. They continue to kiss. She rolls him over, climbs on top. As she starts to undo his pants, though, she... 

Begins to tickle him. He’s confused for a moment, but begins to laugh. It continues for a while, even as he starts to lose his breath. He tries to tap out... 

BENJAMIN Hey... Hey— Stop! 

She Doesn’t stop, though, and suddenly another pair of hands reaches out of the River, joining in. It takes him a moment to realize, but a glint of terror shoots across his face. 

He looks back to the original woman, but... she’s changed. Her hair is Green, her skin is peeling flesh. He tries to scream, but the new hands cover his mouth. Together, the women grab him— and pull him Deep into the River. 

Benjamin, Bronisława, Wioletta

 

60

Dr. Oliver never stops moving: performing magic tricks for bystanders, mixing random bottles together, pickpocketing customers. Hell, he probably pisses in a bottle at some point and manages to sell it. 

Dr. Oliver

No nudity shown

72

THOMAS So after school, I rush home,
 and I grab Adelaide,
 and together we Walk to the Forest, and I tell her how much I love her, and I take the wooden knife, and I 

Lay her down, Gently, on the Stump. 

Thomas

Describing the sacrifice of a pet rodent

92

They shake hands, and Jack begins to walk away. As he does though, Doctor Oliver snaps his Fingers, and Something causes Jack to Trip— directly into Dr. Oliver, who “drops” the bottle of liquid into the campfire. 

Feigning concern, Dr. Oliver leaps to the flame and throws his hands in. He fishes the Bottle from the Flames, but as he does— the fire releases a plume of noxious green smoke. This sends him into a trance state, foaming at the mouth, and speaking in tongues. 

Dr. Oliver plunges his face into the fire. When he emerges, he is holding a red-hot coal between his lips. He tips his head back... and swallows it. When he exhales, smoke comes pouring out. He begins to interpret the smoke cloud.

Jack, Dr. Oliver

 

93

Jack sprints into action, and sees the pot of coffee nearby. He grabs it, and throws it over the fire and Doctor Oliver. 

Jack, Dr. Oliver

 

98

Thomas rolls up their shirt, revealing a large, gaping wound over their ribcage. From their back pocket, Thomas takes the wooden knife, now covered in Red. 

Thomas

Actual act of self-harm occurs offstage— all we see is the wound

120

Margaret turns and sees the baby for the first time— and rushes to get up. As she steps, though, her foot immediately gives way and she falls to the ground. 

Margaret

 

121

As she approaches the River, Margaret falls again. She is able to contort her body to protect her child, but she lands hard. 

Margaret

 

 

 

Important Dates/Holidays

 3/24 Purim*,  3/24 Palm Sunday, 3/25 Holi Phagwa*, 3/25 Lailat al Bara*, 3/27 Nuzul Quran*, 3/29 Good Friday, 3/31 Easter, 4/4 Qing Ming Jie, 4/6 Laylat al-Qadr*, 4/9 Ougadi/Ugaadi, 4/10 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)*, 4/17 Ram Navami, 4/21 Mahavir Jayanti, 4/22-4/30 Passover*, 4/24 Theravada (New Year), 5/1 Beltane-Samhain, 5/3 Good Friday (Orthodox)

Callbacks for American Rusałki 

Monday, March 4th from 7:00pm-11:00pm 

Location: PAX 154. 

CALLBACKS SCHEDULE

7:00pm – 7:25pm

7:25pm – 7:50pm

7:50pm – 8:15pm

8:15pm – 8:40pm

8:40pm – 9:00pm

Brody Ohm

Jason Vernon

Parker Lamert

Charlie Schmelzer

Charlie Duffy

Aidan Seville

Jasper Rood

Andrew Wilkes

Orlando Lopez

Joey Lepire

Luis Avalos

John Stinson

Holland Larned

Samantha Mayer

Emma Bibb

Niyati Deshpande

Katie Gucik

Jen Hogan

Morgan Lally

Alice Conroy

Roxy Glave

Kiley Kennedy

Alice Conroy

Fabienne Rink

Nicolette Mayer

Aleesa Lavrenko

Kiley Kennedy

Jen Hogan

Jasper Rood

Andrew Wilkes

Orlando Lopez

Joey Lepire

Luis Avalos

John Stinson

Tony Nguyen

Luis Avalos

Orlando Lopez

Charlie Duffy

Aidan Seville

Samantha Mayer

Emma Bibb

Katie Gucik

Niyati Deshpande

MUSIC CALL

9:00pm – 11:00pm

Holland Larned

Samantha Mayer

Emma Bibb

Niyati Deshpande

Katie Gucik

Jen Hogan

Alice Conroy

Fabienne Rink

Nicolette Mayer

Aleesa Lavrenko

Kiley Kennedy

Morgan Lally

Roxy Glave

Tony Nguyen

Luis Avalos

Orlando Lopez

Charlie Duffy

Aidan Seville

Jasper Rood

Andrew Wilkes

Joey Lepire

John Stinson

Brody Ohm

Jason Vernon

Parker Lambert

Charlie Schmelzer

Thank you to everyone who auditioned!

Please contact Sophie Young (sophia-g-young@uiowa.edu) with any questions or concerns

Cast List Screenshot

 

Thank you to everyone who auditioned! To accept your role, please email the Stage Manager, Sophie Young, at sophia-g-young@uiowa.edu

 

Note from Christopher: Hello all! I'm SO excited to have your beautiful voices working on this piece. I know we asked for your vocal ranges on Performer Bank, but I'm going to be spending a lot of Spring Break working on musical arrangements, and I want to tailor the score to your individual voices as much as possible! So, could you please send Sophie the following info when you accept your role:

  • What is your vocal range?
  • If you put multiple voice parts, where do you feel your voice is strongest (ie, "I put Alto AND Soprano, but I have a much stronger tone in the Alto range.")
  • Do you know your exact range? Refer to the image below:

    Vocal Range

    Anything else we should know about your voices as we embark on this process?

AR DC 4.13

Full Production Calendar (subject to change). Also accessible in the SharePoint.

Questions or concerns?

Sophie Young, Stage Manager: sophia-g-young@uiowa.edu

Addy Taylor, Assistant Stage Manager: audella-taylor@uiowa.edu 

Ella Crosby, Assistant Stage Manager: ella-crosby@uiowa.edu 

Christopher Lysik, Playwright/Composer: christopher-lysik@uiowa.edu

Kayla Adams, Director: kayla-adams@uiowa.edu