L to R: Bob Singer (Boyd) and Mark Steffen (Evan)
L to R: Bob Singer (Boyd), Kelsey Bowman (Fern) and Mark Steffen (Evan)
L to R: Mark Steffen (Evan) and Bob Singer (Boyd)
L to R: Susie Whelpley (Grace) and Bob Singer (Boyd)
L to R: Mark Steffen (Evan) and Susie Whelpley (Grace)
L to R: Bob Singer (Boyd) and Courtney "Ed" Newtson (Laura)
L to R: Kelsey Bowman (Fern) and Danny Manning (Joey)
May 25-Jun 10, 2007
No Strings Theatre Company presents "The Walkers," a play by Barbara Lindsay. The play opens Friday, May 25 and runs through Sunday, June 10 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Alice Little directs this NSTC production as part of an ongoing process to bring fresh and exciting theater to Las Cruces. Exploring marriage and divorce, the play cannily plays off the concepts of domesticity and desire, and within a compact framework explores the potential of human compassion.
The presentation of this play is the result of a long collaboration between NSTC and Sin Fronteras. "The Walkers" was originally sent to NSTC's Artistic Director, Ceil Herman. It then went through a screening process both by NSTC's New Play Reading Committee and by Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, a group promoting writing which has been reading original scripts for 15 years with the goal of providing a forum through which they can be produced. Sin Fronteras was a sponsor of the play's rehearsed reading at the grand opening of the Black Box Theatre's Annex, BBToo, in July 2006.
Director Alice Little was a member of the cast and on the basis of the reading and the input from audience members, NSTC decided to mount it as a complete production. Michael Mandel, president of Sin Fronteras and director of the reading, said that "Full production of a play from this project is rare, but "The Walkers" is certainly a gem that has great substance and is worthy of national exposure. Also, it made me laugh. A lot."
Alice Little has been directing plays for over 20 years and chose this because "It is a very funny script with an original premise and wacky, yet believable characters. The play uses humor to explore human nature at a deeper psychological level than most drama seen these days."
Seattle playwright Barbara Lindsay teaches playwriting and has written 45 plays, most of which have been produced. Lindsay says "I have always been fascinated with the idea of true selves versus social selves. I am interested in the issue of denial, people kidding themselves, and the chasm between who they are and who they think they are. My guess is that this is probably about most families."
The collaboration between author and director was an added advantage to this production. "This play is very tight," said Director Little. "I knew it had been workshopped before. I talked with the playwright and she said she had done it about 10 years ago in Los Angeles. When you direct an original script, there is the added creativity of having the opportunity to collaborate with the playwright. I talked with Barbara and it was exciting to realize that we see the play in the same way. I wanted to tweak it slightly and I had the rewrite within a week."
Bob Singer, recently seen in NSTC's "Under The Sycamore Tree" plays Boyd and Susie Whelpley who appeared in NSTC's "Children! Children!" and "Getting Out," ASTC's "Incorruptable," and LCCT's "Gypsy" plays Grace. The Walker daughters are Cortney Newtson (Laura), recently seen in Mayfield High School's "Alice in Wonderland," and Kelsey Bowman (Fern) who has been seen in "Into The Woods," "Night of January 16," "OZ!," and "Sometimes I Wake Up in the Middle of the Night" at Onate High School. Danny Manning, who has been in several Onate HS productions and is the president of the Drama Club plays Laura's husband, Joey, and Mark Steffen, seen in the mini-series "Into The West" and NSTC's "Uncle Vanya," plays Evan.
A split personality family
'The Walkers' has audiences looking inward
- By Joel Courtney, Las Cruces Bulletin
The Walkers," by Barbara Lindsay and directed by Alice Little, opened Friday, May 25, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall.
The script was originally sent to No Strings Theatre Company's Artistic Director Ceil Herman and was read for possible production by NSTC and Sin Fronteras/ Writers Without Borders.
Lindsay, who currently lives in Seattle, Wash., has written 45 plays, many of which have been produced.
According to the playwright's notes: "All of my plays ask, one way or another, 'What will it cost me to be true to myself?' That's the central question in my work because it is the central question in my life."
"The Walkers" tackles this question through a very unique family. Parents Boyd and Grace and their girls Laura and Fern, like many people, keep their true feelings hidden throughout the day. Unlike others, the family acts on their true feelings while they're sleepwalking.
Boyd (Bob Singer), the bitter father of the dysfunctional family, spends the day yelling at his wife, despite her continued efforts to treat him like a king. At night, Boyd lives out his life as a true romantic, dancing the night away with his wife. Grace (Susie Whelpley), who lives to please by day, is angry and violent by night.
Fern (Kelsey Bowman), the youngest member of the family, tries to act like a mature and sexual woman in front of people, but at night reverts to the scared little girl she is inside.
Laura (Cortney Newtson) is much like her father, angry by day and a hopeless romantic by night. She is recently separated from her husband Joey (Danny Manning), but her nighttime activities lead her to call Joey and tell him to not let her go.
The family seems content to go through their roles as usual until Joey arrives looking to win back Laura's heart. He alone seems aware that something is amiss in the household, with very strange behaviors occurring early in the morning that no one else seems to remember.
The final piece that helps unravel the family comes from Evan (Mark Steffen), a friend of Boyd's that marries often due to the "disappearances" of his previous wives.
Chaos in the family ensues, but by the end, some have come to terms with their true selves, and others have buried it even deeper.
This production introduces a few new faces to NSTC, many of which are high school students who perform the complicated dialogue of the piece magnificently. Many scenes require two separate conversations to run concurrently with fine timing.
Singer and Whelpley, who display the chemistry a dysfunctional couple would possess, play the love-hate relationship of Boyd and Grace expertly.
Bowman easily pulls off the young girl pretending to be an adult, switching from teasing her brother-in-law to clutching a pillow like a teddy bear.
The relationship of Newtson and Manning borders on abusive, with Newtson drawing Manning back before berating him away again. Manning shows the frustration of someone in love that is stuck in a no-win situation. As he screams and jumps up and down, the audience can't help but feel for him while growing frustrated with Newtson's character's refusal to allow anyone close to her.
Another fine performance, the story contained in "The Walkers" forces everyone to take a look at how their actions reflect - or don't reflect - their true feelings. Although hardly anyone can say they always act in accordance with their heart, the story of "The Walkers" makes one wonder if they could do more to be themselves.
No seating plan has been posted.