By Randi Somers
Playwright Nancy Chastain’s “The Answer” poses some big questions. Chastain also directs her play which is one of two being presented three evenings, back to back. The other is “Flip” written by Kate Rich and directed by Dick Sanders.
In “The Answer” the two actors, Carolyn (played by Marsha Lynn) and Ann (Marla McPherson) are long-time friends in their mid-50s who share secrets. Carolyn had an affair with Ann’s son (who is half her age), and Ann is a member of a family-run club that meets regularly to place orders for caskets. The two friends reveal and discuss both of these facts (the affair and the casket-buying club) while they explore issues of trust, friendship and loyalty.
“I would like the image of the sarcophagus used to represent my play,” Chastain wrote. But despite the macabre piece, the play is not about death. It is about the larger questions of life. The sarcophagus (resurrected from Pier One’s comprehensive prop shop) is a piece of art in one of the character’s unusual collection.
Written last year, the play was workshopped at Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez this past spring with a staged reading this past June. Chastain then rewrote the play, benefiting from the workshop feedback. The upcoming production here will be the first full staging of the play.
Well-known in theater circles here, Chastain writes, acts, lives and otherwise performs in Homer. She has frequently appeared on the Pier One stage as dancer and actor, and is co-producer of DramaSlam! 24-hour Theatre Festival. Now she boldly goes where many have preceded her, trying her hand at writing (and directing) plays.
Her play “Expressions” had a staged reading at Pier One Theater in 2009. “The Answer” is her first fully produced play. A one-act play, it runs approximately 20 minutes.
The second play, “Flip” written by Kate Rich and directed by Dick Sanders, runs about a half hour so, in all. It’s an abbreviated evening at the theatre. Four actors perform this play: Aaron Selbig is Cash, Elizabeth Neumann plays Suzi, Jazz Maltz, Nate and Maria Fournier, Georgia.
Another ‘big questions’ play, “Flip” is a family drama that explores a sibling conflict over atheism and faith. Nate, recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, grapples with his fear of death, while his sister Georgia’s new-found religious zeal grows more and more emphatic. Their parents are not very helpful as the two deal with their problems. The dad (Selbig) is a drunk and the mom (Neumann) is mostly absent.
Having been given no strategies for coping with death, Georgia and Nate find themselves at opposite ends of the religious spectrum as young adults facing the imminent reality of Nate’s death. “Flip” was first workshopped in the spring of 2010 at the Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez.
“It is a deeply personal, semi-autobiographical piece that attempts to portray divergent responses to mortality within a family,” playwright Rich wrote. “I perceive this work as part of a larger play that is still in progress and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to see it performed at this phase of its creative evolution.”
Both plays take place in the present, in small town, suburban homes.
The plays are being staged Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11, 12, 13 at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available at Etude Studio and The Bookstore. They are $8 with discounts available.
Call 235-7333 for reservations.
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