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'Feathers and Teeth' dressed for success

Rehearsal goes well ahead of ASU student's horror-comedy play, set to debut Friday in Tempe after weeks of preparation


Man in makeup chair

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October 27, 2016

Editor's note: This is the fourth installment of a semester-long series following the production of "Feathers and Teeth" from casting call to wrap party. Look for the next story soon.

Director Ricky Araiza knows he’ll wake up Friday morning the same way he always does when a show is ready to open: petrified and in full panic.

“I’m terrified,” said Araiza, an ASU graduate student who will unveil his biting new horror-comedy “Feathers and Teeth” Friday evening in Tempe.

“I’m already a ball of nerves, and that’s just how it is,” he said. “The week before opening night where all of the elements come together is the most stressful time for me.”

The seven-performance run will debut Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Nelson Fine Arts Center and conclude on Nov. 6. Two of the performances are almost sold out. General admission tickets are $10 and $5 for students. For more information, go here.

Araiza, a third-year master of fine arts student in Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance and TheatreThe School of Film, Dance and Theatre is a unit of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts., says these emotions have become ritual for him and that they come with being a director. Whether he knows it or not, he’s a perfectionist. This play is not only the equivalent of his master’s thesis, but it’s his baby, his ball of wax — and he feels the weight.

The young director felt the full force Wednesday night when the first dress rehearsal for “Feathers and Teeth” took place, almost eight weeks after the first audition.

The rafters of Nelson Center Fine Arts Center, Studio 133, were filled approximately with 50 crew members who collectively cover design and construction, sound and lighting, special effects, props, makeup, wardrobe, choreography and publicity. The mixture of stage veterans and rookies were all gathered to see how the play's elements blended together with the actors’ performance.

Actors Maria Harris and Evan Carson are reflected in the back of monitor of media operator Maya Christian during the technical rehearsal of "Feathers and Teeth" on Wednesday evening at the Nelson Fine Arts Center on the Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Araiza, as the old saying goes, expected the worst and hoped for the best.

“This will probably be a terrible run-through, and that’s good,” he said. “I like and encourage failing. When we mess up, we get it out of our system and understand what we did wrong and how we can do it better.”

Actually, it wasn’t bad. The first run-through exposed a lighting cue and wardrobe snag, which are considered easy fixes. In the dark, Araiza could be seen furiously scribbling notes, writing down mistakes only his eyes could spot.

“Tonight was typical for a dress rehearsal, and Ricky’s doing a great job,” said Tom Aberger, a clinical assistant professor and stage manager in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “He’s always finding little tweaks to make things better.”

While Araiza is making adjustments with the technical crew, the cast has to make new acting choices brought on by the new wardrobe.

Tess Galiboti, a 20-year-old acting major, said she has been preparing for this night for weeks by walking around in 3-inch heels. Her character, Carol, has been described by playwright Charise Castro Smith as “Carol Brady on speedballs." Carol is flashy, flamboyant and fond of turquoise eye shadow and Pepto Bismol-colored pantsuits. 

“Costumes force your body to move differently,” Galiboti said. “Then add in sounds, lighting, props, all these different elements. Every show becomes a work in progress, even after opening night.”

“Feathers and Teeth" is about Chris, a 13-year-old girl who suspects foul play when her father hooks up with an attractive home-care nurse after the death of her mother, Ellie. Set in a Rust Belt factory town in 1978, the play combines the supernatural with classic rock, family dysfunction and gremlin-like creatures that roam the house’s crawl space.

The ending even has a dark 1970s-style amorphous conclusion, which tickles actor Fargo Tbahki pink, or, in this case, blood red.

“It has a very horror ending where you thought something was done but really wasn't done,” Tbahki said. “Like in 'Carrie' where the hand pops back out of the grave.”


Read more

Part 1: Anything goes at 'Feathers and Teeth' casting call.

Part 2: Building chemistry among a new cast.

Part 3: Crew members sink ‘Teeth’ into new Herberger production.

Top photo: Fargo Tbakhi (who plays Hugo) gets a little touch-up from makeup artist Macaley Fields as Evan Carson checks his phone before the technical rehearsal of "Feathers and Teeth" at the Nelson Fine Arts Center on Wednesday evening. The play, directed by Ricky Araiza and written by Charise Castro Smith, is scheduled to run from seven shows beginning Oct. 28 and concluding with a matinee on Nov. 6. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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