The student-performed, -directed and -designed performance of “Almost, Maine” on Monday night, Jan. 22, showcased the student theatrical talent found at Troy University.
John Cariani’s play, which premiered in Portland, Maine, in 2004 and flopped off-Broadway in 2006, has since risen to the status of one of the most performed plays in the North American high schools in 2010, according to The New Yorker.
The play is a series of vignettes about different stages of love that resonated with the audience all around the world.
“The performance was really good,” said Aly Scarborough, a freshman theater education major from Thomasville. “I think one of the great things was how well the actors adapted to one of their cast members being sick and not being able to perform.”
The two student directors dedicated the performance to Margaret Criswell, one of the company members who came down with the flu, and even took up her parts.
“Anytime you saw someone with a book in their hand — that would’ve been Margaret,” said Chris Rich, a theater coordinator and an associate professor of theater. “That convention of having the book in hand allows you to go, ‘Oh, they’re stepping in, so I still get the story, and I still get the full performance from one actor, and I maybe get a partial performance from the other.’ ”
In the minimal-cast setting, all actors played several roles.
“All three of my characters ended up being very different,” said Mallory Wintz, a junior communication major from Jacksonville, Florida. “One was a bit more of a bitch, another one was a tomboy and the final one was kind of a richer girl.
“They all came from different social classes, and they’re all in different stages of their lives.”
According to Payton Buchin, a senior theater education major from Dothan, the idea of placing the audience on stage, facing the auditorium, came from a desire to match content with the viewing experience.
“The show is really intimate, and so we wanted to figure out how we could use this big space and still make it very intimate,” Buchin said.
This choice created a distinct look for the show.
“There’s so much distance beyond the performers that it gives you a better understanding of what it would be like to kind of stand out in the woods of Maine and look at the Aura Borealis,” Rich said. “With the audience being tighter, the space felt like it was full but the plain space was vast.
“It’s great to see student-directed work,” Rich said. “I mean, this is all student-motivated.
“We were there to be a resource, but we are not putting our handprint on it. It’s their work and they own it, which is what’s gonna happen as soon as they graduate.”
The staging of “Almost, Maine” was the capstone project of Buchin and Noah Williams, a senior theater major from Huntsville.