One-act plays at the Black Box Theatre

Delaney Lovett

“The Worker”

“The Worker,” by Walter Wykes, is a dark comedy about the relationship between a husband and wife and how the man’s desire to providedisrupts their bond.  It portrays how the husband spending too much time at work can affect the wife.

“It just shows the lack of communication between the husband and wife,” said Ashley Stein, senior theatre major and director of “Worker.”

“The Worker” is the first show that Stein has directed but said her actors are very easy to work with.

“We have had a couple of rehearsals in which we give them different things to play with, and they switch roles and play each others’ roles just for fun. They learn a lot from about the characters they’re playing from doing that,” Stein said.

Lab shows are a great way for Northern students to support other students and see high-quality theatre performances.

“You get a variety of experiences, because all three of our lab shows are very different, so you get to see three completely different shows in one sitting,” Stein said.

Mike Rudden, an NMU alumnus, plays a man who works for a big corporation, has a wife and has problems with both of these situations.

“Dark Lady of the Sonnets”

“Dark Lady of the Sonnets,” by George Bernard Shaw, is about the hypothetical and impossible meeting between Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth.  Shakespeare is sneaking onto the palace grounds to meet up with the Dark Lady, the woman he supposedly wrote numerous sonnets about and runs into Queen Elizabeth, whom he ends up falling in love with.

“It’s pretty funny but historically impossible,” said Sarah Frame, senior theatre major and director of “Dark Lady.”

As the director, Frame does her best to provide direction and blocking to help the actors have a better understanding of the show.

“The language is so rich that sometimes it’s hard to hear the jokes that are happening.  And just trying to pick those out and find ways to amplify those so the audience can enjoy the piece as much as I do,” Frame said.

Having the shows in the Black Box creates a unique atmosphere and challenges for both the actors and the audience.  It uses thrust seating, which means there’s seating on three sides of the stage.

“It’s fun and frustrating for actors and directors because you have to make sure that everybody can be seen from all different sides of the stage,” Frame said.

Thrust seating also makes viewing interesting for the audience by providing different angles of the show.

The Black Box provides opportunities for directors and actors that aren’t necessarily possible on a larger stage.

“When they put a show out on the main stage, (directors) tend to choose shows they know they can get an audience with.  You can do more experimental theatre in the Black Box,” Frame said.

Rudden said that the Black Box is his favorite venue to perform in because of the intimacy it provides.

“There’s a feeling of the audience really being part of the show and the actors are right there with the audience,” Rudden said.

Each show has a different set of challenges, and “The Worker” is no different.

“This show has been … difficult finding a balance between comedy and drama.  There’s been difficulty deciding which layers of the character to show at which times and which to hide, when the character’s in control or not in control of what’s going on,” Rudden said.

Rudden encourages Northern students to attend the shows because they provide high quality, free entertainment.

“It’s something (students) won’t see anywhere else on campus or really probably anywhere else in town.”

“Thirty Minutes To Charlie”

“Thirty Minutes to Charlie,” by Nick Zagone, follows two arrogant men who have only half an hour to get to an important meeting.  They end up needed to make a trip to the emergency room where they’re not getting the help they need, and the audience later finds out it is set on Sept. 11.

“It breaks down to being about the lack of communication and compassion between people,” said Betsy McDonoff, senior theatre major and director of “Charlie.”  “These guys just don’t care about anybody but themselves.”

McDonoff said that she feels her role as the director is to share theatre with everyone and to make the shows more accessible to the audience.

“My role is to be able to take a show and give it to an audience, where they will get a little more out of (it) than they might if they had just read it or just heard about it.  I’m also there to try and take these actors that are in my show and help them to do something better or be better,” McDonoff said.

Abby Ropp, a junior English major and theatre minor, plays a frazzled nurse at the payment desk of the emergency room trying to make sense of what’s going on around her.

“She’s a little overwhelmed and has to deal with these two kind of self-absorbed, arrogant businessmen who have no idea what’s going on and she doesn’t even really have time to explain it to them,” Ropp said.

The biggest challenge for Ropp is trying to communicate the sense of immediacy and urgency the play has.

“They never say the word Sept. 11 in the entire show, so it’s a little bit of a challenge trying to convey the emotions and experience of that morning right after its happening,” Ropp said.

Ropp said she thoroughly enjoyed rehearsal and feels that McDonoff knows a lot about what she’s doing.

“It’s like hanging out with your best friend doing theatre, so I couldn’t really ask for anything more.”