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Dear Helena | Virtual Reading

Dear Helena | Virtual Reading

By Rachel Lynett
Directed by Cynthia White

May 28 & 29 – In a loose adaptation of All’s Well That Ends Well, friends surprise Helena by throwing her a divorce party. Though the intention is to celebrate being free from a toxic man, the women share a time when they assumed all would end well and contemplate the reasons why we accept the love we think we deserve.

In a loose adaptation of All’s Well That Ends Well, friends surprise Helena by throwing her a divorce party. Though the intention is to celebrate being free from a toxic man, the women share a time when they assumed all would end well and contemplate the reasons why we accept the love we think we deserve.

Register for the talkback following the Saturday performance.


 

Design Responses

While these readings won’t have sets, costumes, lights or sound design, a team of student designers worked with the creative team to develop design concepts. This process helps the cast and creative team understand what the play may look and sound like while they continue to develop the story and characters.

Costume Design

   

Sound Design

Scenic Design

Lighting Design Mood Board

 

Creative Team

Playwright: Rachel Lynett
Director; Cynthia White
Stage Manager: Cassie McKay*
Assistant Stage Manager: Magdalena Tronina*
Assistant Director: Emily Williams*
Dramaturg: Shannon Motherwell*
Scenic Design Response by: Arden Jones*
Sound Design Response by: Erica Fox*
Lighting Design Response by: Meagan Prestridge*
Costume Design Response by: Auzsa Carberry-Walters*

*denotes UCF student. All cast members are UCF students.

CAST

HELENA: Kate Milazzo
MIA: Anita Whitney Bennett
DIANA: Jessica Lang
TESSA: Kimberly Harsch
Stage Directions, U/S DIANA, U/S MIA: Alexandra Borsellino
Stage Directions, U/S HELENA, U/S TESSA: Hilary Pardey-Hernandez

PEGASUS PLAYLAB STAFF

Artistic Director: Julia Listengarten
Design Advisor: Vandy Wood
Stage Management Advisor: Claudia Lynch
Production Manager: Gary Brown
Marketing Coordinator: Steven Risko
Box Office Manager: Bridget Parry
Dramaturgy Advisor: Chloë Rae Edmondson
Artistic Associate: Sage Tokach*

 

Alexandra Borsellino (U/S 1,Stage Directions) is a second-year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. She was last seen on the Theatre UCF stage in Scaramouch in Naxos (Bacchante Ensemble) and will be seen again in The Amphibians (U/S, Stage Directions) later this summer. Other UCF credits include Absolute Power (Diana) and Therapy (Director) with Project Spotlight, and #CaseyandTommyGetHitched (Viv) with Moment2Moment Productions. @alexandraborsellino 

Jessica Lang (Diana) is a senior in the BFA Acting program with a minor in dance.  Her previous credits at UCF include Project Spotlight’s production of The Second Circle (Gabby) and various understudy and ensemble roles in The Rover. This will be her first Pegasus Playlab reading. 

Kate Milazzo (Helena) is a second year student in the MFA Acting program. She recently appeared in UCF’s Scaramouch in Naxos (Ione). Before Orlando, Kate studied at the University of Evansville, where she starred in The Three Musketeers (Aramis), The Wolves (#7) and a reading of Q2: A New Musical (Rue). 

Shannon Motherwell (Dramaturg) is a fourth-year transfer student in the B.A. Theatre Studies program. She is actively involved in Playback UCF, Celebrate TYA and Project Spotlight. She is the main organizer for Celebrate TYA’s 24-Hour Play Festival and is the new Company Stage Manager for Project Spotlight. This summer, she will be working as an education intern at Florida Studio Theatre.

Hilary Pardey-Hernandez (Stage Directions, U/S) is a sophomore in the BA Theatre Studies program. She has been seen in the Theatre UCF virtual show Mojada (Josefina). She was also involved in Project Spotlight Fall 2020 in Remnant of the Imposter (Mother/Board 1). @hpardey

Magdalena Tronina (Assistant Stage Manager) is a rising junior in the BFA Stage Management program. Her previous Theatre UCF credits include The Grumpiest Boy In The World (Assistant Stage Manager), Knight of Dance 2021 (Programmer), The Rover (Light Board Operator), and Dance Concert 2020 (Production Assistant).

Emily Williams is a fourth-year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. Her previous work with Theatre UCF includes Much Ado About Nothing (Don John), The Rover (Masquerader, U/S Lucetta) and Sweat (U/S Tracey). She worked as an assistant director in Theatre UCF’s virtual reading of Blood at the Root, and directed Birdbrains for project spotlight. Instagram: Emwillilliams

“This is like straight out of a romance novel.”

Romance novels and films time and time again show us stories of thrilling, passionate, complicated, and unpredictable love. Love stories full of unlikely meetings, rocky starts, adventure, conflict, nights of passion, twists and turns and happy endings. It is rare that we are shown just a simple, or “basic,” love story like the one Helena describes towards the end of the play… the one she originally didn’t want.

What kind of love stories do we idealize?

“In another world, this would be a cute comedy.”

“That is not some cute comedy. All is not well if you have to trick your husband into loving you.”

The Notebook, the 2004 film directed by Nick Cassavettes, is considered one of the best romance films of the 2000’s. The movie depicts the love story of characters Noah and Allie, a couple most people see as an ideal couple in a grand love story full of passion and huge, romantic gestures.

Well...

Noah and Allie’s relationship starts with Noah actively threatening to let himself fall off the top of a ferris wheel until Allie agrees to go on a date with him, after already denying his advances several times. They fight constantly, hardly agree on anything, and are seemingly always annoyed with each other. Noah was completely obsessive and possessive of Allie, even when they were not together. I could go on.

The Notebook, and many other films like it, showcases a toxic relationship and manipulative actions as something romantic, and perpetuates the idea that true love always arises from immense conflict and messy situations. While I’m sure that there are some relationships of this nature that have worked out in the end, that is not the case for many and certainly not for the stories told in this play.

“For what it's worth, I think we all deserve so much better than what we’ve been handed. No. That’s not it. More than what we’ve accepted. We deserve so much more than what we’ve accepted.”

What have you accepted in your own relationships? The women in this play each take turns sharing their greatest heartbreaks. Their stories are full of abuse, manipulation, possessiveness and deceit, yet much like The Notebook, they still find romance in these stories. In listening to each other, they are able to recognize that they deserve so much more. We all do.

“I'm tired of women accepting this bullshit and calling it love.”

Rachel Lynett (she/they) is a playwright, producer and teaching artist. Her plays have been featured at Magic Theatre, Mirrorbox Theatre, Laboratory Theatre of Florida, Barrington Stage Company, Theatre Lab, Theatre Prometheus, Florida Studio Theatre, Laughing Pig Theatre Company, Capital Repertory Theatre, Teatro Espejo, the Kennedy Center Page to Stage festival, Theatresquared, Equity Library Theatre, Chicago, Talk Back Theatre, American Stage Theatre Company, Indiana University at Bloomington, Edgewood College and Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. Rachel Lynett is the 2021 recipient of the Yale Drama Prize for their play Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry (You Too August Wilson), and their plays Last Night and HE DID IT made the 2020 Kilroy’s List. Rachel Lynett is also the artistic director of Rachel Lynett Theatre Company and executive director of Page by Page.

This summer, Theatre UCF’s Pegasus PlayLab returns! Pegasus PlayLab is a festival dedicated to developing plays by emerging playwrights. Audiences are invited to hear staged readings and experience full productions or workshops of new plays. Follow these plays into the next stage of development and be part of the creative process with playwrights, casts and directors!

Performance Schedule

  • Friday, May 28, 2021, 7:30  p.m.
  • Saturday, May 29, 2021, 7:30  p.m.
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