New Cobb-Kesler Blackbox Theater Presents “I could have had the earth”

Anna Darling, Features Editor

After many months of waiting for the new Cobb-Kesler Theater to finish construction, it has finally opened. “I could have had the earth” is the first performance in the new section of Cobb Theater. With only a little over a month to prepare for the performance, Emma White and Tarah Leake, seniors at Randolph-Macon, gathered to watch auditions together, choosing sophomore Kaylee Traylor as “A”, junior Kyle Ringley as “B”, and sophomore Lily Chapman as “D” in the new production. With only a few table readings under their belt, the cast and crew began rehearsing every day. After a J-term full of practice, about 13 hours a week, Traylor, Ringley, and Chapman were ready for opening night. They performed four nights in a row, completing their show on February 19.


White’s “I could have had the earth” is set in the underworld, with Persephone (A), Hades (B), and Orpheus’ wife Eurydice (D) stuck in a love triangle. The play starts with Persephone walking into the underworld, where Hades has called her. Persephone begins to teach Hades about human love as they develop a relationship together. After connecting emotionally and physically, Eurydice comes into the picture. Persephone, raging with curiosity and lust, pursues her and they start to develop feelings for each other. Persephone, hurting both of her lovers, learns she must choose which one she can stay with. Eurydice learns how different Persephone’s relationship with Hades is and leaves her new love. Hades and Persephone also start having trouble, so she returns home to deal with her pain. After time away from them both, Persephone realizes she loves Hades and wants to spend the rest of her life in the underworld with him. They agree to eat the dreaded pomegranate seeds together and the play ends at the expense of what life will look like for their relationship.

Kaylee Traylor (left), as “A,” and Kyle Ringley (right), as “B,” during the final scene. Photo by Katie Dodge.


Writer Dara Epstein’s production is one full of epic poetry mixed with modern thinking. She questions mortality and the feelings of love and hurt. Why are they so important and exciting? How would a god react to these feelings and why? How could two humans in the underworld fall in love? Each line is full of care and deep thought, describing and humanizing Greek Mythology in our world today. Because of the amount of dialogue in the show, the cast needed to make many decisions, which they achieved very well. “They sort of create their characters,” White said, “a lot of it comes from them and what would be in line with their character.”

Cobb-Kesler Blackbox Theater and set before the final performance. Photo by Noah Babin.

The stage was neat and simple, representing the dark emptiness of the underworld. “I think the emptiness and simplicity of the space worked in terms of what the script described but also for what we wanted,” White said. While the cast made the performance lively, the lighting stood out exponentially. A few scenes in, the lights turn completely dark with bright red shining directly on Traylor and Ringley as they slowly danced, representing their intimacy. This stark contrast of light shocks the eye, leaving the audience in awe. The only downside to the performance was the temporary seating arrangement. The seats are not raised yet, making it more difficult to see if not in the front row. Luckily, this will change in the future.

Kaylee Traylor, as “A,” and Kyle Ringley, as “B,” during intimacy scene. Photo by Katie Dodge.

About the Production


White has been a part of many productions at R-MC, spending time as an actor, stage manager, and many other positions. “This is the first time I’ve directed something of this scale,” they said, describing it as a learning process. Even with experience, “you don’t know how to do it until you do it.” Each production has its difficulties, however, and White explained what could have been better. After getting a case of COVID-19, White said they were “Zooming into [their] own rehearsals, trying to direct on Zoom.” It made the short production time more complicated. Fortunately, the cast and crew made the process easy by listening and being patient. Holding the first performance in the Cobb-Kesler Theater added another layer of anxiety to the process, which White described as ‘intimidating.’” However, after the performance, knowing everything went well, they said, “it’s really special!” and, “it’s an opportunity no one else will be able to say they had.” Looking back, they said, “I can’t believe I did it!” It was a joy, being able to witness their first directing performance.

Kaylee Traylor getting hair and makeup done before the final performance. (Noah Babin)


Senior Elena Keeler and sophomore Katie Dodge worked together with the cast and crew to design the costumes for the show and Keeler constructed them. While Chapman and Traylor’s costumes stayed relatively the same throughout the process, Ringley’s costume changed the most. “He was going to be in this armor and cape!” Dodge said, “but we made the armor, and it didn’t really work.” Each character’s costume changed throughout the performance to show their growth or emotions. Chapman loses the sleeves of her dress as a “transformative moment” and Traylor changes her dress “when she’s decided she’s chosen B,” Dodge explained. Each of the characters had a piece of red in their costumes to symbolize their connectedness.

Kyle Ringley (left), as “B,” Kaylee Traylor (middle), as “A,” and Lily Chapman, as “D” during the performance. Photo by Katie Dodge.

LGBTQ+ Representation and Intimacy Training:

“I could have had the earth” displays an LGBTQ+ romance between Persephone and Eurydice. The first production performed in Cobb-Kesler Theater includes a kiss between these characters. Along with Nick La Grua’s production of Significant Other last spring, R-MC Theater has included more representation for the LGBTQ+ community these past few years. “The kiss between our characters is so light and quick that it normalizes a same-sex relationship,” Traylor said. While almost being excluded from the show to protect against COVID-19, the cast pushed for the kiss so that Persephone and Eurydice’s relationship “couldn’t be misinterpreted.” Before the kiss, White spoke about intimacy training. They wanted to make sure “the actors felt comfortable and that they felt safe.” The cast discussed boundaries and learned to trust each other through these workshops. Lily described the training as “comfortable and chill,” and was able to connect to her character more because of it.

Kyle Ringley getting hair and make-up done before the final performance. Photo by Noah Babin.

Audience Reactions:

Doing a live performance can shock a cast and crew in many ways. White explained that “you feel the energy of all those people in the room,” and “it spurs you to do things differently.” Chapman agreed, saying “their energy can change the performance.” Another thing that changed was how each live audience responded. White said, “there were some lines they laughed at that I had never thought to laugh at before.” When asked if the audience acted as they expected, Traylor said, “never!” But, overall, Ringley said his experience was “fulfilling,” and Chapman and Traylor agreed.

Kaylee Traylor (left), as “A,” and (right) Lily Chapman, as “D,” during the performance. Photo by Katie Dodge.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you to everyone involved in the production of “I could have had the earth.” The audience loved the performance, giving standing ovations and even throwing roses at the cast during the curtain call. This is only the first production in the Cobb-Kesler Blackbox Theater. There will be more to come and they will continue to impress those who watch.

The Production Ballet. Photo by Anna Darling.