The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts April 21, 2006

Triumph in 2026: There Will Be Raining on This Parade
No Drought for Soft Rains, Student Director Levin Proves Worthy

Junior Jon Levin’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s short story “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” was performed during ArtsFest last weekend, adding an element of aesthetic neutrality to the vibrant displays that dominated the event.

The play’s three actresses, junior Mary Notari and sophomores Sarah Degni and Lisa Maley, dressed completely in white, using only white pieces of plastic, white buckets with water and a white sheet for props and a dog puppet. The play involved no human characters. Instead, it depicted the death of a house after a nuclear holocaust, long after its inhabitants had been wiped out. The actresses used their few props as well as their own voices to represent the mechanical workings of the house, evidence of the tragedy that had occurred.

The sparse scenery made the dramatic element of the piece much more vivid.

“It was a really striking and innovative use of theatrical stage space. Levin’s effects were haunting just because they were so minimalist,” said first-year Nicolee Kuester.

With their fingers, the actresses made the sound of electronic mice creeping across the floor to remove the carcass of a dead dog, highlighting the action in a way that was sinister and almost frightening.

In another scene, the images of those who lived in the house were displayed as shadows through a sheet, flashing against the white like photographs, frozen in the motions they were doing when the bomb exploded.

Throughout the play, the time was told, emphasizing the strict regularity with which the house knew to perform its duties, as well as marking the hours that went by in silence. The actresses took turns holding a sheet of plastic halfway in front of their faces and reciting the time in a concise, robotic manner.

The play’s title is taken from the Sara Teasdale poem that the house reads to the mother figure, now gone, which begins, “There will come soft rains.”

Because the play was a work in progress, the second half was done as a dramatic reading. The sheets of paper in their hands were barely noticeable as the house was doomed to its own self-destruction, eradicating all signs of civilization.


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