@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.

Still Life with Iris

By Steven Dietz, Director Nikka Ziemer

  • L to R: Grotto Good (Zac Egan) Greta Good (Susie Whelpley), Iris (Alyssa Gose), Mozart (Jackson Whelpley), Memory Mender (Simeon Funk), Mister Himtoo (Makena Dosset)
  • L to R: Captain Also (Erica Valdez), Annabel Lee (Autumn Gieb), Third String (Madelin Whelpley) and Ray (Simeon Funk)
  • L to R: Annabel Lee (Autumn Gieb), Mozart (Jackson Whelpley) and Iris (Alyssa Gose)
  • L to R: Bolt Bender (Makena Dosset), Thunder Bottler (Peter Huckabee), Iris (Alyssa Gose) and Thunder Bottler (Jackson Whelpley),
  • L to R:n Iris (Alyssa Gose) and Mister Matternot (Peter Huckabee)
  • L to R: Mr. Matternot (Peter Huckabee, Mrs. Overlook (Kathleen Murphy) and Iris (Alyssa Gose)
  • L to R: Annabel Lee (Autumn Gieb), and Iris (Alyssa Gose)
  • L to R: Mr Matternot (Peter Huckabee) and Mozart (Jackson Whelpley)
  • L to R: Greta Good (Susie Whelpley), Iris (Alyssa Gose), Mozart (Jackson Whelpley)and Grotto Good (Zac Egan)
  • L to R: Annabel Lee (Autumn Gieb), and Iris (Alyssa Gose)
  • L to R: Iris (Alyssa Gose), Mrs. Overlook (Kathleen Murphy) and Mr. Matternot (Peter Huckabee)

Nov 09-Nov 25, 2012

FRI NOV 9,16| 8:00 PM
SAT NOV 10,17| 8:00 PM
SUN NOV 18,25| 2:30 PM
THU NOV 15 | 7:00 PM


The play is a family friendly adventure fantasy drama . Set in Nocturno, "Still Life With Iris" chronicles a young girl's quest to regain her memory and with it her home. With the help of the incredible people she meets along the way, Iris' crusade recovers more than her past. She succeeds in finding herself: the power of faith and the courage of persistence. These traits will lead her home.

The play's story line is in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland. Its allegorical elements and cultural will appeal to the adults in the audience while its strong plot, fantastical characters, and appealing heroine will engage children. The play explores how loss of one's past steals the future as well, and how our past defines who we are. Through a series of encounters with new friends, Iris is able to seek and discover the rest of her past, as well as revealing a wonderful secret which changes her future.

Director's Note

Director Nikka Ziemer first read "Still Life With Iris" a couple of years ago. She enjoyed it enormously but delayed proposing it to No Strings Theatre Company for production as it is extremely prop heavy and requires building many unusual props and developing particular effects. The minimalist set employed in this production enables transitions from scene to scene with minimal delay. The only set requiring more than three pieces is "the Great Room" in the home of the Goods and these set transitions are enhanced by Mozart's piano music.

As rehearsals unfolded, the cast and director all became increasingly engaged in the magic of Nocturno and ever increasing exposure to "the Great Room" which brought to mind the story of King Midas's magic touch. As ideas flowed in rehearsal it became increasingly clear that life is richer when including variety and nuances and becomes rigid, ridiculous, and static when insisting upon a single value, even if it is thought to be the best.


Elmer/Third Strong
Flower Painter/Bolt Bender/Mister Himtoo
Gretta Good
Grotto Good
Hazel And Captain Also
Leaf Monitor And Annabel Lee
Man/Mister Matternon/Thunder Bottler Two/Dad
Memory Mender/Rainmaker/Mister Otherguy/Ray
Mom/Miss Overlook
Thunder Bottler One And Mozart
Written By


Girl finds herself in dreams - 'Still Life With Iris' is both simple and complex
- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin

The Seattle/Austin based playwright Stephen Dietz is blessed with a unique gift. He has the uncanny ability to write plays which at first glance seem simple - almost too simplistic - but the more one ponders the themes and the evolution of the plays' characters after seeing Dietz's productions, the more the playwright's amazing dramatic insights, nuances and flashes of creative brilliance morph into nuggets of wisdom that dazzle and stimulate the mind. Such was the case when I encountered Dietz's work for the first time last year when I reviewed "Becky's New Car," at the Black Box Theatre, and more so in "Still Life With Iris," playing at the Black Box for the next couple of weeks - through Nov. 25.

There is an "Alice in Wonderland" and "Wizard of Oz" quality to the story, but that is not the core of the play. Unlike the stories of Lewis Carroll and Frank Baum, there is no amazing revelation at play's end, which suggests that the story is all one large dream. Instead, at the conclusion of "Still Life With Iris," the audience is given the opportunity to begin a significant conversation or internaldialogue about what really matters in one's life.

Some may wonder where the play is going at its start when presented with a signpost giving alternative directions for many points in the roads of the imaginary land of Nocturno in which the play is set. But over the course of the production, many profound messages about love, loss, friendship, memory and courage slowly reveal themselves. Set in Nocturno, (which some might interpret as "Dreamland"), characters spend their nighttime hours creating elements that are put to use during daylight. "Still Life With Iris" chronicles a young girl's quest to regain her memory and with it her home. With the help of the a strange assortment of characters she meets along the way, Iris recovers more than her past. By play's end, she succeeds in finding herself: the power of faith and the courage of persistence. These traits lead her home and reunion. She is both sadder and wiser.

Director Nikka Ziemer has assembled and guided a diverse cast with a range of acting skills. Her vision of the play is at once clever, minimalist and sensitive.For me, standout performances were presented by Kathleen Murphy, as Iris' longsuffering mother who keeps her own share of secrets. Murphy delivered such a memorable performance as the title character in "Becky's New Car" last year. Peter Huckabee provides a complex assortment of emotions including a sense of mystery, sinister and care to present us with a compelling portrayal of "Mister Matternot."

I was amused by the over-the-top portrayal by Autumn Geib, who bursts upon the scene late in the first act as the incarnation of Poe's Annabel Lee. And last, but by no means least, I was deeply touched by the simple yet complex portrayal of the title character, played carefully and sympathetically by Alyssa Gose, a talented 15-year-old sophomore at Las Cruces High School.

"Still Life with Iris" was written and performed at the Seattle Children's Theatre in 1997. It was the first play written for young audiences to receive the Kennedy Center's prestigious "Fund for New American Plays" Award. It is easy to see what so impressed the judges.

Near the end of the first act, as Iris tries to escape from the oppressive situation in which she has been cast, she finds herself on the shore of the sea. I gazed on the stage and saw a prop "rock," which I immediately recognized from the Black Box Theatre's first production "Seascape" which was staged more than 11 years ago. My, how time does fly How the Black Box has thrived.

May the Black Box Theatre/No Strings Theatre Company, under the loving and careful direction of founding producers Ceil and Peter Herman continue to bring us productions that make us smile, cry, think and grow in the years to come.

"Still Life With Iris" runs through Nov. 25 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m Sunday matinees on Nov. 18 and 25 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. Tickets are $10 regular admission, $9 for students and seniors 65 and older and all seats on Thursday are $7. Call the Black Box Theatre 523-1223 for reservations or online at www.no-strings.org.


No seating plan has been posted.


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