Thursday, May 3, 2012

A midwinter night's dream

By Alison Haywood, Copy Editor

Love is in the air in the town of Almost, Maine.

The Theatre Department’s final production of the year is an unconventional play comprised of nine relatively unrelated vignettes all dealing with a common theme.

“It’s all about love,” said senior Angie Tennant, who plays Marci. “Finding it, losing it, working through it, and examining relationships where it’s [love] blossoming and examining relationships where it’s [love] going through something harder.”

Each scene takes place at around 9 p.m. on a Friday night at different locations in the fictional town. Although the show has a relatively large cast of 19, no more than three characters appear onstage at any given time.

Characters from different scenes don’t interact with each other, but once a character has performed, other characters will mention them later in the show. First-year Mitchell Helton, who plays Easton, said although the scenes are unrelated they flow into each other.

“They [the scenes] kind of create a map of who works for who and their relationship within the town to each other," Helton said. "The playwright does a good job at connecting the characters in the scene before theirs."

The cast only came together as a whole Sunday, before then rehearsing only in their individual scenes.

"That's unusual, but it's interesting because I get to learn about these students in a much more intimate way," said Artistic Director of Theatre Jeff Clapp, who is directing the show.

Tennant said she anticipates the audience connecting with the characters because they cover such a broad spectrum.

“We’re asking the audience to invest themselves in characters they’re only going to see for four to five, or eight to maybe twelve minutes,” Tennant said. “They [the audience] are going to get a broad wash of affection for these characters because they’re so endearing.”

The show plays on romantic, small-town themes and invests itself in intimate moments.

“I think the author had in mind this could take place almost anywhere in the world,” Clapp said. “The author’s trying to give you a slice of Americana.”

Tennant said some of the couples featured in the play include 16-year-old first lovers, two male best friends who fall in love and a couple trying to reignite an old relationship, among others.

“It’s exploring a common theme and putting it into different lights with different people,” Tennant said.

Clapp said Almost, Maine is not as dark or fantastical as the department’s previous shows this year.

“It’s very reality-based, but also is very metaphorical,” Clapp said. “Almost every scene … has some sort of pretty over-the-head metaphor.”

Clapp said Almost, Maine didn’t do well on Broadway when it first came out but currently it is the most-produced play in America.

The technical aspects of the show will mainly involve light changes because of the short scenes. The set will be large but relatively bare and will be set against backdrop of the night sky, Clapp said.

Almost, Maine will be Tennant's 17th and final show at PLU. She said she feels a sense of nostalgia for her time here.

"I'm happy and sad," Tennant said. "Sad because, of course, I've had an amazing four years here with our department."

Almost, Maine will be the last show produced on the Eastvold mainstage before the auditorium is renovated.

“We’re kind of saying goodbye to the space,” Tennant said.