Scarlet 2018: Samuel Opsal

A Ballet 5:8 tradition, we are catching up with the dancers for their insights on bringing our full length ballet/film hybrid Scarlet back to the stage for our Spring 2018 Season!

Samuel Opsal (Roger Chillingworth) with Brette Benedict (Hester Prynne) in  Scarlet .

Samuel Opsal (Roger Chillingworth) with Brette Benedict (Hester Prynne) in Scarlet.

Company Artist Samuel Opsal

Q. Tell us about your character.

A. I play the role of Roger Chillingworth. In the ballet I act as an antagonist for Hester and Dimmesdale.  My character is married to Hester, but keeps that secret when arriving to the Puritan village right as they are deciding how to deal with her affair. Throughout the ballet, he is searching for the man she had the affair with, seeking to enact revenge through psychological torture and manipulation.

Q. What is your character's emotional arc?

A. The ballet Scarlet deals directly with sin and how it is dealt with. Rather than finding redemption, suffocating guilt or even just a prick of the conscious, Chillingworth has a very different arc when it comes to sin. He feels no remorse of any actions of abuse or torture believing that he is justified in doing anything that benefits himself. The only scene that shows a possibility he might change is the final scene (that you will have to come to the show to see!).

Q.  This role was created on you when Scarlet premiered in March 2017 - what is it like revisiting your character a year later?

A. It has been a great experience revisiting the character a year later. I understand how my character moves and reacts allowing for me to play with slightly different approaches while maintaining the integrity of the character and choreography.

Q. How has the story of Scarlet has impacted you?

A. The story of Scarlet has been impactful to me in the ways it portrays sin and hypocrisy. As we look at Hester, Dimmesdale and the Puritan village we see that hidden sin is just as damaging as visible transgressions. Thankfully, there is forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ.

Samuel Opsal and Brette Benedict rehearsing the Jail Scene pas de deux from  Scarlet .

Samuel Opsal and Brette Benedict rehearsing the Jail Scene pas de deux from Scarlet.

Q. What is your favorite part of the ballet?

A. My favorite part of the ballet is the jail pas de deux that I perform with Brette Benedict who plays Hester. In it Chillingworth is interrogating Hester to find the father of her child. The movement involves intense partnering and acting. There is definitely a sense of achievement when we do it well! Because of the abusive nature of the scene, however, I often feel quite dark afterwards, not nearly the exhilaration felt when portraying a lighter character.

Q. Why see Scarlet?

A. Scarlet consists of many artistic mediums - what I most appreciate about the production is their smooth integration to create a whole. The minimalist interactive set, film showing the inner thoughts of characters, and choreography that balances virtuosity with intimacy all come together to create a show that you don’t want to miss!