An Interview with Ben Capella from The Helpers



thehelpers.jpgAn interview with Ben Capella about his role in The Helpers from MU Theatre's Digital Reading Series. Written by Theatre 200 practicum student Tory Noble.

What is your role within the Digital Reading Series?

I have three roles: Silberbauer, the BBC Radio Announcer, and I serve as one of the narrators.

How has working on this project been different because of the restrictions Covid has created for you?

Rehearsals themselves have been online every day (which I’m honestly used to because of the state of the world anyway) but it is vastly different than any other rehearsal process I’ve been in. It has paved the way for a different type of acting, though. It is interesting to only focus on the top half of your body, and you have to be creative in portraying your character with that in mind.

What do you think audience members should know before they view The Helpers?

First and foremost, the audience should know that The Helpers is a thoughtful, heart-wrenching piece about friends, and their hardships regarding the world around them at the height of World War II. The show is tough to get through, even in the rehearsal process. The piece is crafted in a way that takes the audience along for the ride and makes the audience feel all the emotions felt by the actors, which is a tough task to execute. I’ve cried multiple times, and I’m already aware of what's happening!!

How do you think you have benefited as a theatre student from your work on this production?

This experience has opened my eyes to the world of online theatre in a way that makes it seem like it’s not as bad as I originally thought. I have gotten a lot out of the experience: I’ve learned a lot about the effect of inflection, especially if your voice is the only aspect of your character. I’ve also learned that connections can still be made across a screen. It helps that the script is so well written that connections are easily made between actors. Also, knowing that there isn’t a true set, no concrete props, and a lack of physical interaction with each other, it places an emphasis on the words and the acting of the characters more than ever, which is a very interesting experience, and a fantastic way to focus on acting by itself.

What do you hope the audience will gain from viewing The Helpers?

I hope the audience will take in the show as an interpretive reading. The meaning of the work is not lost at all. If anything, the meaning is more accessible without the distractions of the set, other characters, or other outside facts, like the three-year-old that always seems to be in the front row of a show that won’t shut up. Isolating the script and characters will hopefully create an environment for the audience to take in the meaning of the play without any outside distractions, and will ideally have more of an impact.

Attend the MUT Digital Reading Series

New works that provide unique perspectives on our contemporary moment, shine a light on injustice, and share stories from underrepresented voices.

Please be advised that the series includes works that depict violence and trauma; audiences should review available information before deciding to attend a reading.

Youtube links to the shows in the Digital Reading Series can be found on the MU Theatre webpage.

Saturday, March 6, 2021, 7:30 pm EST
The Helpers
by Maggie Lou Rader, directed by Lindsey Augusta Mercer

The Helpers is a new perspective from the other side of the most famous bookshelf in history. Miep Gies, an immigrant, and secretary for Otto Frank's famous Opekta company, leads a group of helpers to preserve the residents of the Secret Annex and the spirit of goodness and survival during World War II. The Helpers is a tale of joy, hope, friendship, and resistance during one of history's darkest moments.

Upcoming shows in the Digital Reading Series: 

Saturday, March 13, 2021, 7:30 pm EST
Baby Camp
by Nandita Shenoy, directed by Jenny Mercein

When Toni, Maria, and Aditi arrive at the Future is Freedom Retreat, they don’t know what to expect, but their fearless guide Lois is eager to share her plan to take back the power from conservative forces in government. Set in the not-too-distant future, Baby Camp asks whether adopting the playbook of the opposition is really the path to freedom and whether power is worth any cost. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021, 7:30 pm EST
Silas the Uninvited
by Derek J. Snow, directed by Daryl Harris

Silas tells the all-too-familiar story of a Black man in rural Louisiana who has just been lynched by a mob in 1930, yet finds himself mysteriously alive. In the events to follow, he is confronted with a choice to live again in another time as a Black Man in America and deal with some of the many complicated struggles with race and time that have always plagued this country.

Saturday, March 27, 2021, 7:30 pm EST
Describe the Night
by Rajiv Joseph, director TBA

Set in Russia over the course of 90 years, this thrilling and epic new play traces the stories of seven men and women connected by history, myth, and conspiracy theories. In 1920, the Russian writer Isaac Babel wandered the countryside with the Red Cavalry. Seventy years later, a mysterious KGB agent spies on a woman in Dresden and falls in love. In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government crashed in the Russian city of Smolensk.