Plays aren’t just all romance, singing and dancing – sometimes, they’re just like real life.
This weekend at Russell Hall the USM Theatre Department will debut its production of Night Sky that will run Thursday through Sunday. In Night Sky, a family fights and an accident happens in this story that any audience can relate to. The show is a comedic drama by Susan Yankowitz and directed by Associate Professor of theater Assunta Kent.
The show revolves around Anna, played by senior theater major Mary Kate Ganza, who is known as the brilliant astronomer in the midst of a research study on dark matter. The metaphor behind her research is not yet deciphered until after Anna is hit by a car and is diagnosed with Aphasia. The mental disorder prevents the distinguished scientist from being able to communicate fluidly, causing her words to become disarranged as she speaks them. Her inability to fully understand, communicate and express herself verbally is played out in scenes between her coworkers, boyfriend and daughter.
The overarching themes of real life are very present in interactions with Anna’s daughter Jennifer, played by sophomore theatre major Clare McKelway.
“Anna’s injury really forces Jennifer to grow up and mature because suddenly she has to think about how to help her mother communicate and be understood, rather than the other way around. She is forced to assume the role of mother, but she also still has the bits of bratty teen that show through as her mother starts to recover,” says McKelway of her character.
Director Assunta Kent chose this straight play to open USM’s theatre season to illustrate the role of women in science and to test the boundaries of her students by assigning them to characters that test skills.
“A show like this challenges them and keeps them out of the same role,” said Kent, “It allows different talents to come out.”Senior musical theatre major Joseph Sibley plays the role of the Anna’s boyfriend Daniel, a failing Opera singer trying to make it big. “Night Sky” introduces elements of romanticism, family and friendship spoiled by a car accident and healed through a coating of comedy as the characters begin to cope with life.
In the production, the cast presents interesting metaphors and real life circumstances we can all relate to by the presentation of a scientist with aphasia.
“Aphasia makes a beautiful metaphor,” said director Assunta Kent.
“It’s not like any other play I’ve ever done,” said Sibley.
Ganza admires her character, Anna, and her strong personality. “During the show, I love watching how she can power through it all,” said Ganza.
The comedy and the drama will unfold this weekend. See the USM Theatre Department website for more info.