Cue the spotlight, ‘cause the show must go on

Imagine being the producer, actress and playwright for a production that opens in less than a week. It seems like any sane person’s nightmare, but for Christine Rodriguez, it’s a reality.
Rodriguez’s original play, The Arrangement, directed by Jacqueline van de Geer, opens Oct. 25, yet she seems to be remarkably calm. It’s a classic case of ‘the show must go on’ fever, and despite having had to step into the lead role only a few weeks ago, she knows there’s no turning back now.
The play centres on the story of five middle-aged women and long-time friends, Barbara, Faye, Ines, Anca and Jaya. Barbara is married with children and has a seemingly perfect life, Anca is a Romanian-Canadian aspiring actress, Ines is a tough-cookie career woman of Latin American descent, Jaya is South-East Asian with an arranged marriage, and then there’s Faye. Played by Rodriguez, Faye has to cope with an enormous setback when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. As the play unfolds, an odd arrangement she strikes before her death ignites long-standing rivalries between the friends, which leads to the unraveling of more than one secret.
Van de Geer describes the play being above all about relationships, and that “the essence of it is friendship and loss.” The conflict stems mainly from personal issues that arise between characters, and that, she feels, is something that everyone can understand.
“A duo, it’s very easy, they are friends. And when you’re alone you can be friends with yourself or not, that’s also an easy one. When you have three people, it’s already complicated,” she says.
In order to prepare for the production, van de Geer says they began by doing improvisation. “We started off playing hide and seek and tag, and rock paper scissors, just to bond,” she says.
And bond they did. All was going smoothly until the actor playing Faye had to drop out for personal reasons. Rodriguez, as producer of the show, had attended most of the rehearsals and, of course, knew the play by heart.
“I was probably the best person to jump in,” she admits. Rodriguez certainly never expected to be acting in her own play, and feels the pressure of having to adapt keenly. “It’s killing me!” she jokes.
Though Rodriguez laments not being able to see the final product, she says that through the acting, she’s learning more and more about the character. “As the playwright, I could tell you a million things about the character and where she came from, but that’s all in my head, and acting is also in the body,” she explains. As a writer first, she said “it’s the actual doing and being, that [is] the most challenging.”
The production also involves three Concordia graduates. Daniel Loyer, the music director as well as a former Stinger, has composed some original pieces that will be incorporated into the show between scenes. Stéphanie Lambert, the set designer and fellow alumna, was in charge of creating a simplistic set to fit the small theatre at Espace 4001. The design features large scenic paintings to resemble various textures and includes a strong focus on lighting.
What makes this show so special, aside from the novelty of an all-female cast, is the way it provides unique insight into the modern woman’s perspective. Through its diverse set of characters, this play aims to honestly capture the complexities of relations between women, and the bonds they share. 

The Arrangement will preview on Oct. 25 and it’s pay-what-you-can. The play runs Oct. 26-30 at Espace 4001 (4001 Berri Street). Showings are at 8 p.m. Oct. 26-29 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 30. Student tickets are $20. Tickets can be bought at the door at or can be reserved by calling 514-518-3880.

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