The sweet touch of “dawn’s rosy fingers”

The Assembly Festival reaches for sunset with “Rosy-Crimson”

The performers of Rosy Crimson bowing // Photo by Maya Costanzo

The natural world joined in harmony with various performers and artists these past few days  with “Rosy-Crimson.” The Assembly Festival continued with the performance that took place on Apr. 11-13. The Assembly Festival presented by the Muhlenberg theatre and dance department has allowed for expression and pieces in non-traditional forms of theatre. “Rosy-Crimson” is no different as it took a wide variety of elements and from a unique perspective. 

Kim Hoeckele, assistant professor of art, photography, while not a theatre professor, utilized their unique perspective to create a captivating performance for audience members as both a writer and director.

“As a director— I have no experience,” stated Hoeckele. 

This then led Hoeckele to rely on the company of performers and value their input during the process as a whole.

“Kim has put up ‘Rosy-Crimson’ in a few different iterations and in different environments, and she encouraged us to adapt our characters based on our own personalities, which was fun and freeing.”

– Allison Mintz ‘23

“Everything I have learned about acting and direction has come from conversations with actors and then quickly schooling myself. In some ways, being a novice is freeing, because it allows me to make choices unencumbered by rules or certain approaches— but on the other hand, and especially because I am working with other people, it can be frustrating to not have the language to convey an adjustment to an actor. In some ways, my lack of expertise futhers the collaborative nature of the work because I am really relying on the actors input,” continued Hoeckele.

The company included Zoe Kane ‘23, Larissa Dowling ‘23, Elaine Landry ‘24, Niamh Sherlock ‘23, Olivia Wasser ‘24, Naava Wilson ‘25 and Allison Mintz ‘23, who played in the space and contributed to the collaborative atmosphere.

“Lots of rehearsal processes here for actors involve a director coming in with a particular vision and piecing together how their actors can create it, but throughout these rehearsals Kim really gave us the opportunity to make these words our own. Kim has put up ‘Rosy-Crimson’ in a few different iterations and in different environments, and she encouraged us to adapt our characters based on our own personalities, which was fun and freeing,” declared Mintz.

The hypnotic performance reflected on the setting of the sun while the dialogue consisted of the dawn and the beautiful colors of the spectacle. The piece was divided into seven scenes: 1. Rumors, 2. Restless, 3. Discord, 4. Clamor, 5. Apparition, 6. Endure, 7. Return. All of these scenes took place in the Robertson & South Amphitheater without some traditional theatrical production elements.

“I thought the performance was in a really cool space as we don’t always use the Robertson & South Amphitheater for performances. The textual work the actors had done was beautiful and the costumes and makeup were stunning,” stated Hannah Verdun ‘24, an audience member. 

Lauren Koranda ‘23, an audience member, added, “Normalize producing shows in the South amphitheater!”

The costumes, makeup and actors helped to fill the environment and represent the themes of the piece. Bekka Broyles ‘22 served as the costume designer and helped to bring together the different fabric and colorful elements of the dawn.

“The color scheme for our costumes and makeup reflects the dawn so it’s mostly pinks, reds and oranges,” stated Wilson. 

Performing “Rosy-Crimson” outside has also led to different issues for rehearsals and practicing the piece.

Wilson shared, “I think doing the show outside makes a lot of sense for this piece, although dealing with the weather and noise has been troublesome, I think it’s worth it.”

“I will add, we had a dreadful time with the weather to be able to rehearse outdoors consistently; it was freezing, it was raining, our rehearsals were late and it was dark. Watching the performance in full last night for the opening really transformed the work— in addition to the reference to a time of day, they discuss the wind and other elements, it really felt fitting to hear the birds and feel the breeze for the performance,” mentioned Hoeckele.

The process was more than just a performance as it allowed for a nonlinear representation of textual ideas from “The Odyssey” by Homer, from 13 different English translations. The text also allowed for a focus on who the author of these stories is and what is included. 

“I assembled the script using this repeated phrase, ‘dawn’s rosy fingers’ from across 13 English translations of ‘The Odyssey,’” declared Hoeckele. “The phrase was a mnemonic device used by an orator to keep a rhythm and remember their place in the epic poem. In creating the script, I was interested in the role of the translator: how much variation in a story could one find just based on the interpretive choices of a translator?”

Wilson mentioned, “Having our writer be our director gave us really detailed insight into her vision, while still being receptive to our own takes on what was happening in the script.”

The entire cast of actors featured female and non-binary identifying students. The environment created by Carolina Sutton-Schott ‘24, production stage manager, Baylee Whitebread ‘25, assistant stage manager and the company allowed for a safe and inclusive space for everyone. The Assembly Festival has allowed for these diverse and inclusive environments, as seen with “A Feeling Of, Feeling For” as well. 

Mintz stated, “Most casts become close throughout the rehearsal process, but I feel that I will genuinely come out of this experience with a new group of supportive friends.”

“For me it feels like the show changes everytime we do it, and it makes every experience exciting,” said Wilson.

“For me it feels like the show changes everytime we do it, and it makes every experience exciting.”

– Naava Wilson ‘25

“I cannot emphasize how lucky I feel as a theatre student to have met and worked with Kim, a photography professor who I never would’ve otherwise interacted with in my time at Muhlenberg without ‘Rosy-Crimson.’ She has stretched my brain to help me think about art in new ways, Kim is a constant support to all of us in and out of rehearsal, from bringing us cookies and oranges to revive us after a long day to zooming in from home while she suffered through COVID to help us figure out the meaning of our opening scene,” concluded Mintz. 

The entire piece was a reflection of “The Odyssey” and the important role of dawn, with various levels of movement by the actors, different texts, moments of silence and a beautiful sunset in the distance complete with natural elements. The reciprocal of dawn, sunset, allowed for a unique view of “Rosy-Crimson.” Audiences left with their own interpretations of the piece and a new appreciation for the beauty of the sun. 

Koranda mentioned, “I was deeply moved by the performing company’s embodiment of the non-linear language as they made meaning amongst themselves that I, as an audience member, became deeply invested in.”

“I think audiences need to come to this work letting go of the expectation of a traditional plot arch, and allow themselves to be curious about the kinds of relationships that are created by the actors,” declared Hoeckele.

Johnny '24 is a Theatre and Media and Communication double major at 'Berg. He loves to highlight the voices of artists across campus and to showcase the wide variety of events at Muhlenberg. He likes to think he is funny, but that is up for debate.


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