Studio 58 alum returns to direct third play at Langara

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Reported by Clare Hennig

Rachel Peake, director of Angels in America. Photo courtesy of Rachel Peake
Rachel Peake, director of Angels in America. Photo courtesy of Rachel Peake.

Rachel Peake, the director of Studio 58’s current production, Angels in America, said that her success in the theatre industry snowballed after her time in the program.

Peake worked with Studio 58 students throughout the past month to bring the play to the stage from Sept. 29 to Oct. 16. The play follows two young couples and their struggles during the 1980s AIDS epidemic in New York City.

Peake graduated from Studio 58 in 2006 and has since directed two plays at the school. She attributes her success to how the program is run.

“This is an actor-driven event and because Studio 58 is a active training program, I really took that to heart,” she said.

The production is still culturally relevant despite its age

Josh Chambers as Belize(left) and Julien Galipeau(right). Photo by David Cooper
Josh Chambers as Belize (left) and Julien Galipeau (right). Photo by David Cooper.

The play, written by Tony Kushner, was first shown in 1991. Despite this, Peake said the issues depicted in the play are still pertinent nowadays.

“I think [the] case of people trying to find a way to fit into a society that’s fragmented is very present nowadays,” Peake said in a Skype interview.

“AIDS is not the death sentence that it was back then,” she said. “However, we’re still seeing the gay community be marginalized and attacked in various ways.”

Creative liberties have let the cast immerse themselves

Elizabeth Barrett, a third-year student who plays the lead character, said she appreciated the creative freedom the cast was given with their roles.

“It’s incredibly important to be given the license to try things on stage and to explore,” Barrett said.

Barrett said the way Peake directed allowed the cast to delve into their characters, despite the generational differences.

“[Peake] encouraged us to not only research the era but also delve into the details,” she said.

Peake is currently in Washington, D.C. working on her next production, Clickable.

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