“Far Away” from other shows

“Far Away” from other shows

The first time Jennifer Chapman saw Caryl Churchill’s play “Far Away,” she didn’t like it. She said the show left her confused and a bit mad she had spent $65 to see it done professionally.

 After a couple years of thinking about the show, Chapman said she was ready to revisit the play that poses difficult political questions about why humans find war reasonable.Chapman, an associate professor of theatre arts, will direct the short play that runs just 50 minutes and is comprised of three short scenes and three speaking roles.

 Laura Schlichting, a junior who plays the main character Joan, said the biggest challenge the cast faces is helping the audience find the meaning in the confusing show.

 “The really important thing is the text we are given,” Schlichting said. “The way that we say things is really going to communicate the hidden messages to the audience.”

 The text of the play is the focus and it has led to an experience that has been more like perfecting a poem, Chapman said.

 To ensure the words are the most prominent part of the show there is very little movement and a very simple set design.Jake Lindgren, a senior theater major, designed the set after the opportunity came his way through a class last semester.

 “In a scenic design class we all made designs for the show and I was fortunate enough to have mine be picked and then work with Jen to change and alter it to what she wanted but still keeping my vision,” Lindgren said.

 To keep the focus on the text heavy show Lindgren said the set is simple, every thing has a purpose and everything does double duty: acting as a piece of the scenery in one scene and a different in the next.

 “The audience can fill in the set with their imagination and then they become more involved in it,” Lindgren said. “The audience is not witnessing this world, they are in this world, which brings their emotions to it as well.”

 Chapman said the emotion she expects the audience to feel is confusion, which makes this show a good fit for an academic environment where questions can be asked.

 “It is a tough, tough play. Thank goodness it is only an hour because you need at least an hour afterwards to kind of digest it,” Chapman said. “Intrigued confused is a good feeling. I hope it leads people to read more of her plays or think more about the question it poses.”

 Cassie Kohrs, a senior, and Seth Hale, a junior, fill the other two speaking roles in the show, but 19 other students act as extras in the show. The demand for extras, to wear “fabulous” hats in a runway show, has been a great opportunity for students, Chapman said.

 “We have a lot of students who would want to be involved recreationally in theater and it has been a fantastic way for people to get involved who have historically not had time to be in a full production,” Chapman said.

 Being involved has meant three hours a night, five nights a week for five weeks for the three main cast members. But it has been a unique development, said Hale, who plays Joan’s love interest.

 “The rehearsal process has been fun because the play is so short we have had a lot of time to dissect stuff and do interesting things instead of just reciting lines,” Hale said. “ One night we did origami while sporadically reciting our lines through it so we can get a feel of what a conversation interrupting your work might sound like.”

 After being so engulfed in this world for so long now, Kohrs, who plays Joan’s elderly aunt, said she is interested to see how audience members react.

 “We are given so few words that the audience really has to hear all of the words,” Kohrs said. “I’m really curious to see what the audience take away will be.”

 The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 to 14, with matinees at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 in Riverside Theatre in the Haas Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $7 for UW-Eau Claire students.