Edward “Ed” Hrinya is a physics and philosophy major at Roanoke College with a love of acting and theater that stems from performing in high school plays. Hrinya (pronounced Her-EEN-Yuh) is rehearsing for this month’s Theatre Roanoke College production of “The Haunted House,” a play by Plautus, whose comedies are considered among the finest of ancient Rome. In the show, translated by Erich Segal, Hrinya plays the large role of Theopropides, a wealthy merchant whose comical gullibility is a key part of the story.
This play is not Hrinya’s first on the Roanoke College stage. Last spring, he appeared in “5 ½ Comedies by David Ives” in two different short plays, first as a New Jersey construction worker and then as a burnt out surfer who summarizes Melville’s “Moby Dick” for an unseen skeptical teacher.
Hrinya talked with us about “The Haunted House,” his work on the show in and out of rehearsals and the reasons that he is drawn to the theater.
RC News Blog: What is the show about? Could you give us a brief summary of the play?
Ed Hrinya: I play an old man who has been out of the country for several years. While I’ve been away, my son has been running around with loose women, drinking and partying with friends. I come home unexpectedly and catch him unaware, but they find out I’m home before I actually catch them in the act. My son freaks out and convinces the slave to try to keep me from finding out. The slave starts with one lie, and when I come close to figuring that one out, he builds on it with another lie, and then another until eventually it just snowballs into one big lie.
RC News Blog: Do you think a modern audience can relate to this classic Roman comedy?
Ed Hrinya: Anyone who has ever told a lie can appreciate this play. It gets out of hand very quickly. You start with just a few details, and things don’t quite add up. People start questioning and pressing you, so you have to throw in more and more details, and it gets way out of hand. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of and want to keep other people from finding out about, and we’ll go to any lengths to do that. Now, in this play, I’m the one trying to figure out the truth, so I’m the other side of the coin, but I think people can relate to that side of the issue, too.
RC News Blog: Describe the language style in “The Haunted House.” Does the Erich Segal translation of the play being done by the college make the dialogue modern and accessible?
Ed Hrinya: Very much so. A lot of the conversation in the play is how you would talk to normal people every day, and when it isn’t, it has a very musical quality to it. One idea we keep coming back to is that it’s very Seussical [reminiscent of Dr. Seuss] in parts. It has this rhyming quality that makes it sound like a song. There’s a lot of fun in it. There are a lot of witty puns and plays on words and language that I think will be really fun to watch.
RC News Blog: You were in last spring’s production here at the college. What made you come back to do more theater?
Ed Hrinya: I’ve always liked acting. I think it’s a great thing, being up on stage and playing somebody completely different than yourself. I really liked a lot of the people I worked with on the last show, and I get the great opportunity to work with most of them again. Some of the best hours of my day are the ones I spend in rehearsal, and if I didn’t have that, I probably would have gone crazy by now.
RC News Blog: Describe a typical rehearsal. What gets done, and how many hours per week do you spend on your role in and out of rehearsals?
Ed Hrinya: We try to focus on running scenes in rehearsal. There’s a lot of fun in rehearsals. We all get along; we all have a good time. The question we all have is how can we take this script, that’s only words on a page and turn it into something that’s vibrant and alive, that’s as enjoyable for someone watching it for the first time as it is for us who are running it for the 60th time?
The first couple of weeks were a lot of work, because there were a lot of lines to learn. It’s not like you can just pick up a script and bam, you know your lines. It takes a lot of work, so, early on I was spending about 20 hours a week with rehearsals and everything. Now that we all pretty much know our lines, and we’re just polishing, I’m probably putting in about 10 hours a week.
See the work of Hrinya and his cast mates in Theatre Roanoke College’s production of “The Haunted House.” The play opens Nov. 16 in Olin Theater and runs every night through Nov. 19.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are free to the campus community ($7 for the general public; $5 for seniors and non-RC students).
Click here for more information.
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