In a world of infinite possibilities, you will attend ASU's adaptation of 'Constellations'

The directing behind the ASU student production focuses on actor mental health in this emotionally 'heavy' story

A physicist and a beekeeper walk into a barbecue – and the rest is developed in thousands of different universes in Nick Payne’s Broadway and Tony-nominated play, “Constellations.” 

A production of “Constellations” is being held at ASU, headed by director Katie Farrell, a second-year graduate student studying directing, and producer Jesse Hixson, a third-year graduate student studying arts entrepreneurship and management.  

Originating in London, the play follows the love story of a physicist (Marianne) and a beekeeper (Roland) through multiple universes. These multi-universes are altered by differences in decisions, and the two lovers deal with heartbreak, triumph, disease and more.

“We are students, doing this off a student’s budget,” Hixson said. “I’m excited for people (to see) the show and (realize) that while it isn’t the million-dollar production, it is still just as intimate and beautiful and intense of a story.”

Farrell is redefining what roles directors take on the set in this production, which distinguishes it from the original showing of “Constellations," as well as other theater productions. 

Her current thesis project involves studying how to create a healthy rehearsal process for actors with mental illness and trauma backgrounds. 

In doing so, Farrell practices bringing actors back to reality after rehearsing particularly heavy scenes. 

Farrell said she often asks herself questions such as, “How can we be rehearsing in a way that is respectful and consensual at all times?”

The two-person show features Marianne performed by Ausette Anderies, a sophomore majoring in theater, and Roland performed by Corey Reynolds, who graduated with an undergraduate degree in theater at ASU in 2018.

Throughout the show, viewers watch as Marianne and Roland experience every possible outcome of every major decision they make.

“It’s a universal story," Hixon said. "You’re going to sit down and hopefully see yourself or your relationship for love that you found in some way because you do get to see every facet of love."

The actors said Farrell's approach to directing creates a calm, comfortable environment compared to other shows they have featured in.

“We actors usually just get told what to do,” Reynolds said. “In this process, we get to voice our input and give ideas on how to make the show more accommodating to everyone.”

Before every rehearsal, Farrell asks her team where their emotions are and if there has been anything lingering on their minds.

“It's not really realistic to leave your emotions at the door, you have to meet people where they're at that day,” Farrell said. “I think we've done a really good job of taking care of one another and making sure all of us are ok as we go through this process.”

Anderies said she appreciates Farrell’s process because she does not feel the fatigue she normally experiences after rehearsing a show for such long amounts of time.

“Rehearsing smart makes better plays,” Anderies said. “I don’t think theater needs to be a negative process when it’s something we only do to share happiness with people.”

Farrell said her approach to directing is essential in “Constellations,” because it is a particularly heavy story.

“It shows a very human relationship with all of its flaws and all of its good parts,” Farrell said.

“You can walk out of the show and think, ‘Maybe whatever situation I’m in isn’t working out right now, but there are thousands of other universes where something is going right,’” she said. “People can hang on to that and know that their universe is coming.”

Farrell and Hixson's production of “Constellations” will run from March 1 through 3 in the Nelson Fine Arts Center in Room 133. Tickets can be purchased here


Reach the reporter at eborst@asu.edu and follow @ellieeborstt on Twitter. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.