Spring starts with 'Salome'

Oscar Wilde's "Salome" will be Santa Monica College’s first theatrical production of the semester, beginning on Friday, March 29.

According to SMC's website, "Salome" can be described as a “decadent and erotic tragedy that reinterprets the biblical story of Herod’s stepdaughter Salome, whose illicit passion for John the Baptist leads her to make an unusual request that ultimately results in her own death.”

“The writing is just shocking and amazing at the same time," says Perviz Sawowski, SMC theater arts department chair and the director of "Salome."

"My actors are brilliant," she says. "We attract good students from neighboring communities, and they’re very talented, so it’s going to be a really strong production."

Sawoski describes the upcoming production as a very intriguing biblical story that is told through the lens of the late 19th century.

“[It is] almost taboo-type material," Sawoski says. "It’s very shocking and a little disturbing, but it’s powerful and it’s good theater.”

Sawoski, a theater arts professor at SMC for the past 18 years, has a few plans to make the play unique.

“In terms of costuming and set, I told my designers I want an art nouveau, art deco-looking [style] because that was the time period of Oscar Wilde,” she says.

Sawoski wants the play to look more put together with this more modern twist, rather than the Middle Eastern biblical-type setting.

Sawoski will incorporate in the play an actress who does sign language as well.

“I blended her in to be one of the characters, so if somebody who cannot hear comes to see the play, they can enjoy the play,” she says.

Another way Sawoski plans to make the play more unique is by choosing to use a lot of music and dance to “add entertainment to engage the audience."

"There’s a lot of beauty in the dances," she says.

The cast has been rehearsing since the beginning of the semester, working four days a week. Sawoski also works at other times with groups of actors and specific characters, such as the soldiers or the lead characters.

“Dancers work the hardest, working afternoon into almost the evening," Sawoski says. "They take a break, come back, and then do a full rehearsal. It’s tons of hours. It takes up my whole life."

Although the play is written as one act, Sawoski said she is still on the fence about whether she will lengthen the production.

The opening night is Friday, March 29 at 8 p.m., with a preview show to take place on Thursday, March 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online, by phone at (310) 434-3005, and at the SMC Theatre Arts Box Office from 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets will also be available the day of the event, 45 minutes prior to showtime.