Theater Department presents 'Six characters in search of an Author'

By Marissa LaPorte | 3/27/16 9:46pm

GVL / Emily Frye Justin Mackey, Seth Burton, Amy Gascon, and Charlie Wilburn, from the upcoming play "Six Characters Theater Performance", take a moment for a photo on Thursday Mar. 24, 2016.
by Emily Frye and Emily Frye / The Lanthorn

Grand Valley State University’s theater department will be presenting a classic Italian drama that will raise questions concerning human identity and reality, as well as offer a new perspective on theater itself.

Written by Luigi Pirandello, “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” is a story of six "unfinished" characters that spring to life and confront a theater director and his crew in order to tell their own stories. Emily Wilburn plays one of these six characters and said this performance won’t be anything the audience expects it to be.

“It’s not your everyday show,” Wilburn said. “I think it would be cool for people to come out and see the show because it will stretch their imagination a little bit more and open them up mentally to different ideas of theater. That’s the main purpose of the theater department here on campus.”

Roger Ellis, a GVSU theater professor, said directing this production has been challenging because the structure itself is complicated. He said Pirandello’s intention in writing these six characters was to give the impression that they are other-worldly, no matter how much they resemble other people.

In order to capture this effect there are several slow-motion moments, strange lighting effects and the six characters wear masks during the performance. Ellis said he would encourage students to attend a showing of this production because it can provoke critical thinking and questioning of what is real and what is constructed.

“Most of our students are used to watching very traditional ways of acting in sitcoms and movies and I think they need to step back and remain critical of what they’re watching and realize it’s all just constructed,” Ellis said.

Seth Burton, a GVSU theater student, said this performance is educational and can teach the audience something about what theater actually is. Burton will be bringing one of the other six characters to life and said the audience can grow with the six characters on stage.

“(The characters) are somewhat in their infancy,” Burton said. “They’re growing as they grow on stage for us. We’re experiencing the growth of the characters, just as everyone else is.”

Burton said it’s important for the audience to realize the six characters aren’t real people, but they are rather mystical beings. However, while the six characters are being portrayed as other-worldly as they possibly can be, the director and his crew are doing the opposite on stage.

Mina Shafik said while playing his role as the director, he has to remain as ordinary as possible in order to create a contrast between himself and the strange entities that are the six characters.

Showings of “Six Characters in Search of an Author" will be held on April 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., with two afternoon showings on April 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. Ticket costs are $12 for adults, $10 for alumni, seniors, faculty and staff and $6 for students and groups.

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