The Master and Margarita Comes To Keller High School

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Armando Tellez

The Master and Margarita Playbill

Armando Tellez, Staff Writer

Tanner Hudson, a senior at Keller High School, adapted and directed Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. The play adaptation was presented on September 24th and October 1st at Keller High School’s Fine Art Center.

It all started two and a half years ago when Hudson was presented with a stack of scripts. Among them was a poor adaptation of The Master and Margarita, that although confusing at times, sparked an interest that motivated him to find other adaptations and read the book. It was in doing so that Hudson found a story that spoke to him.

“What is there not to like?” answered Hudson when asked what he liked about the story. “Every word written has a purpose. Mikhail Bulgakov wanted to change the way society was looking at what is good writing and how you define art. I hope it got them thinking in some way; about the treatment of women, societal hierarchies, and art in general. I hope they read the book.”

It took about a year to adapt the story for the stage. In the process, Hudson borrowed material from other adaptations. One by Edward Kempt was particularly useful in sifting through the material in the story to make a cohesive, easy-to-follow adaptation. In the end, the final script was a blend of these adaptations, the book, and Hudson’s imagination based off of what he got from the book. A scene not found in any previous adaptation of The Master and Margarita, which incorporates flashbacks, is the one in which Ivan has an exchange with the doctor where he explains the events leading up to that moment in time.

As part of the technical aspect of the show, music played a big role in the stage adaptation. The soundtrack included songs from The Rolling Stones. The inspiration to use the band’s songs in the play came in the form of the song: “Sympathy for the Devil.” Hudson explained that he felt that song, along with the others, related to the show in the sense of disorder, which is instrumental in the structure of the story. He also explained that his personal choice of mirroring a Tarantino aspect stemmed from what he’d seen in one of the director’s movies: Inglorious Bastards. The interactive nature of the show was inspired on Brecht’s technique: “Brechtian Theatre.” It allowed the audience to engage with the story in a way that held their interest throughout. This was Hudson’s first experience being involved with the technical side of theatre.

Rehearsals for the show started in early July. They would go from 9am to 6pm during the summer, 4 to 6pm and weekends when school started, and 7 to 9pm when the theater department’s production of Grease began. The fact that the show’s opening weekend was placed at the end of the six weeks grading period at Keller High School presented its own problem as the workload for cast and crew increased in the last few days of rehearsal. Still, Hudson managed to keep cast and crew engaged with the production of the show. He went on to say that one of the best parts of directing the show was watching people grow through the work they put into the show.

“It’s very stressful being a director because you have to think of everything. You have to give people work. They have to know exactly what they’re doing to the fine print, because if they don’t, they’re not going to give you exactly what you want.” said Hudson, describing his experience directing. “It drove me crazy, but I loved it.”

Hudson would like to thank his cast and crew for all their effort. A DVD version of the play will be available for purchase through Keller High School’s Theater Department.