The Cenci Profile: Eva Alie​

The Cenci is a play written by Percy Bysshe Shelley that tells the story of Beatrice and her struggle to free herself from her abusive father, Count Francesco Cenci. This year, Professor Jo Devereux’s English 2041F class will be putting on The Cenci as part of their coursework and are staging the production from scratch, from blocking and set design to marketing and performance. The production will be double-cast, meaning there will be two casts performing on alternating nights.

I sat down with Eva Alie to discuss her role in the production and her experience thus far.

     Photo Credit: The Cenci at Western University on Facebook

Name: Eva Alie 

Year: 3

Program: SASAH/Anthropology/French 

Role: Costume Design 

Tell me a bit about yourself:

“When I landed at Western three years ago, I was absolutely convinced that I was not a creative person and that law school was my only option after graduation; after my first project for SASAH, I realized that I was meant to live in the arts. I am working towards a career in fashion creative/art production and hope to never want to retire. Trixie Mattel and Katya are the absolute loves of my life and if I were to ever work with them on a project, I would almost certainly die on the spot.”

What made you want to get involved with The Cenci?

“I am extremely passionate about fashion and art production/direction, so I thought that this was a phenomenal opportunity to build experience in a field that I love while also getting credit for that work. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned the importance of making space in my course load for classes that give me creative room to breathe and explore, so it seemed only right that I be involved.”

Have you been involved in theatre before? 

“I was in the campus production of The Vagina Monologues last year, which was such an incredible experience that really taught me about the political power of theatre.” 

What does your role entail?

“I am in charge of the aesthetic vision for the show, from costuming to hair and makeup. I chose to set this piece in early 1950s America, as there are significant societal similarities, and the overarching themes of family structure, religious institution and gender roles are defining pillars of both time periods.”

What’s been your favourite part of the process so far?

“It has been really fulfilling to be able to explore an era of design that I have always loved but have not been able to work with before. I was given complete freedom with the aesthetic vision, as well as access to the incredible costume closet the English Department has in University College, and I have been able to rework a lot of the pieces from there into era-appropriate costumes for the show. My favourite costume so far is a tailored jacket that gives me stunning post-war Dior vibes.”

What’s been the most challenging aspect of designing costumes for The Cenci?

“This is a double-cast show, creating twice the number of costumes for some roles, so it has been hard to really spend the time on each and every costume. The character of Beatrice (the daughter) has also been a unique challenge in the sense that she experiences this truly horrific assault which sees an evolution into an almost vigilante-esque figure; I want to capture this strength and be able to dress her in a way that exudes her power but without glamorizing or sensualizing sexual assault like so many other forms of media have.” 

Why should people come see The Cenci

“At first glance, The Cenci might seem like a far-fetched and unrelatable story set in a time entirely unlike our own. But the themes, particularly in regard to the attitudes surrounding and legal prosecution of sexual assault, are persistent concerns that permeate the three-time periods that the audience will experience while viewing this production, those being the end of the 16th century, the early 1950s and present day. The Cenci is deliberate in its discomfort and truly forces the audience to rethink how advanced of a society we truly are.”

Speed Round:

Plays or musicals? Musicals.

Favourite play? A Raisin in the Sun.

Favourite musical? Hamilton, Heathers or Chicago. 

Pre-show ritual? Stretch and cry a little.

Check out The Cenci from December 4-7 at 7:30 pm at the TAP Centre for Creativity. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults and can be purchased on the TAP Centre website. For more information about The Cenci, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Related Articles

  • The Cenci Profile: Nawton Chiles​
  • The Cenci Profile: Cobourn Sands​

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