TheatreAC actors tackle absurdist challenge in 'Six Characters in Search of an Author'
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
"We, the six of us have no other reality. ... We don't exist outside this illusion."
Audiences are in for a mind-bending evening of facts vs. alternative facts, if you will, in TheatreAC's production of Six Characters in Search of an Author, opening Thursday.
"It's a huge acting challenge. It's not a cause-and-effect show. It's not episodic," director Ray Newburg said. "It is weird."
The play will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Amarillo College Experimental Theatre on the Washington Street campus. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, students and AC faculty, staff and students. Call 806-371-5359.
Playwright Luigi Pirandello was at the forefront of the absurdist theatrical movement with this 1921 play that finds an acting company interrupted by six people who insist they are fictional — unfinished characters in search of an author to finish their story.
And the story itself is rather disturbing: The Father (played by Brock Burton) explains that he separated from the Mother (Hannah Johnson) after they had a child together. Years later, after Mother has had three children by another man, Father meets the Stepdaughter (Michaela Smith) in a bordello, claiming he doesn't recognize her despite her insistence that he does.
They explain their tale to the Manager (Christopher Tarver), who attempts to let his acting company perform the story, to the consternation of the characters.
It's nothing like the average show. Like Newburg said, it's weird.
And that's the point: It's an educational exercise for the student actors, and for the audience as well.
"I was very intrigued by the unknown. I was confused when I first started reading it, and because I was confused, it kept me reading more and more to see what the story was," Tarver said. "I really started to enjoy the debate (between the characters) of what was real and not real."
The show is "very complex," Burton said.
"We did a lot of tablework (reading and dissecting the script together)," Burton continued. "This is my first like this. Most of the ones I've done had complete, solid endings — 'this is how it happened.' This broadens my horizons."
There's something "foreboding about the play," Newburg said.
"It seems to be going constantly backwards and forwards, then sometimes sideways, then to tangents, then poof, we're on to the end and this extremely tragic moment, and that's the end," Newburg said. "There's no tidying up."