‘The Living’: A Plague Story From Another Time Comes To Centralia College
By Carrina Stanton / For The Chronicle
Emmy Kreilkamp considered having “The Living” as one of the shows offered by Centralia College Theater last year, but was concerned a plague show might not be well received during the height of the COVID pandemic -19.
And while we still navigate the pandemic, Kreilkamp said now is the time to offer him to open the 2021-2022 college season.
“I chose this game because it was important to open the season with a game that speaks to our time and place,” said Kreilkamp. “It’s a play about the plague but as the title suggests, it’s about those who survived and how they were changed by time spent during the plague.”
“The Living” will open on November 12 at the Corbet Theater on the campus of Centralia College. This is the first in-person show for the college’s theater program since the COVID pandemic closed theaters around the world in March 2020. This year, the Centralia College Theater will have a three-show season that will also feature featured the comedy “Noises Off” on February 11. -20 and revisit “Into the Woods”, canceled by COVID, for the spring musical from May 13 to 22.
Based on the novel “A Journal of the Plague Years” by Daniel Defoe, “The Living” by Anthony Clarvoe is set in 1655 in London and tells the story of the impact of the plague on individuals and the community in its together.
Some of the characters that audience members encounter are: John Graunt (played by Hayden Bigelow), a scientist who acts as the narrator of the story; Sarah (played by Alyssa Graves) the wife of a trader, whose whole family was killed by the plague; John Lawrence (played by D. Douglas Lukascik) A mayor trying to rebuild his city; Ms. Elizabeth Finch (played by Brianna Tomtan) a hunter of the dead; and the Reverend Dr. Thomas Vincent (played by John Pratt) a minister whose faith was shaken.
Many in the cast of 10 represent more than one character, portraying ordinary people in the community, including cabinet makers, blacksmiths, caretakers, and farmers. Through their stories, audiences hear about their isolation and hopelessness, Kreilkamp said, but also about their hope and even a little humor, albeit a humorous one.
“Ultimately it’s a story of hope and how people help each other in times of extreme crisis,” Kreilkamp said.
Centralia College’s production of “The Living” features a purposely minimal package to allow audiences to focus more on the characters and their stories.
“There are a lot of moments to hang on to, a lot of stillness and a lot of calm,” Graves said.
While “The Living” is a step forward for a program that was unable to offer in-person theatrical productions last year, some things remain different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Kreilkamp said the staging of the play worked well for the safety of the cast, as this is another time in human history when people were socially distancing themselves to control the spread of a virus, so that the characters at least stay at a distance from each other.
As is the industry standard for theaters, actors have rehearsed with masks and will perform without masks as they can be more than 20 feet from the audience on stage. Kreilkamp said rehearsing with masks posed challenges for the actors, especially when it came to projecting their voices, but it also created opportunities.
“It forces you to use other parts of your body besides your face to convey emotions,” Kreilkamp said.
Due to ongoing COVID restrictions, proof of vaccination and masking will be required for all members of the public. The Corbet Theater will also have limited capacity, with family groups able to sit with each other and be socially distant from other groups.
“Because they are going to be in a confined space for 90 minutes with others, it was important for me to provide the public with a safe space,” Kreilkamp said.
For those who cannot physically attend for some reason, a streaming option will also be available on November 12, 14 and 20.
For the actors and actresses another safe space has also been created for them in the rehearsal process and that is in the ability to emotionally unwrap the past year and a half together. Bigelow said working on a topic that so closely resembles the COVID-19 pandemic we still live in has been difficult, but he also found hope in the stories they tell.
“The whole production is not about the dead, it’s about the living and there is hope by their side all the time,” Bigelow said.
Graves added that reuniting with their fellow actresses and actors again and working together on the subject has been a sort of healing effect for her.
As they trained on stage, she said that behind the scenes they often laughed and joked together.
“It can be really dark and it’s hard to get away from it, but it’s nice to have people to experience that with,” Graves said.
If you are going to
What: Centralia College Theater presents “The Living”
When: From 12 to 14 Nov. and from 19 to 21 Nov., at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Special show pay what you get at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 18
Or: Corbet Theater in Washington Hall on the campus of Centralia College
Cost: Adults $ 12, students / seniors $ 10. Proof of vaccination and mask required. The performance on November 14 will be followed by a discussion with the cast and crew. Free online broadcast available November 12, 14 and 20 on Zoom meeting ID 848 0328 9230
Information: Centralia.edu/theatre or @centraliacollegedrama on Facebook. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (360) 623-8871