Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
As the school year comes to a close, Ole Miss Theatre still has a few more boundaries to break in their last show of the season- “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” The play originally premiered in Rome in 1921 as an absurdist play, or a play in which human existence and communication have no meaning – and the plotline is certainly unexpected.
The story follows six characters who have come to a theatre company to ask its director to write their unfinished story. It has a similar flair as Inception, but instead of dreaming versus waking, the play asks who is real and who is not. Six Characters in Search of an Author was originally noted for this controversial content that poses the question what is real and what is illusion.
“It’s a big deal because the play challenges traditional theatre,” said director Joe Turner Cantu. The challenged traditions in the play are the broken boundaries in this performance. There is a play within a play, there are actors playing actors and there are characters who have come to life who are not actors.
“It’s disturbing because it shows us that life can be disturbing,” Cantu said, “It shows the truth, and the truth hurts.” Cantu’s words show another point in the play where boundaries are broken. The show is less entertainment with fantasy and much more like art imitating life very closely.
Logan Little is taking the role of The Director in the play.
“The Director is kind of the pathway for the audience to understand the situation,” Little said of his character. He is one who makes discoveries along with the audience as the characters demonstrate what human consciousness means, what constitutes reality, and the importance of memory.
George Kehoe plays The Father, a character who helps The Director learn some important lessons.
“The story is about the contract between reality and illusion and what is most important to us as human beings,” Kehoe said. “It shows us the importance of the residue left behind by each experience we have as humans.”
The play may be deeply philosophical, but at least one member of the cast is certain this show is not nearly as confusing as it is thought-provoking.
“It’s not difficult to understand,” Little said, “As long as someone isn’t on their iPhone, the show is directed well enough to make sense. Everyone will leave thinking they’ve had a great intellectual experience.”
Although the Breaking Boundaries season is ending, it is not coming to its final curtain without leaving a lasting impression.
“All you have to do is look at Laramie project,” Cantu said, “It proves that our Theatre Department can break boundaries.” The Six Characters director was referring to an incident last semester wehn the Laramie Project, a play which explored the murder of gay man, was interrupted by members of the audience during a performance. Cantu does not know what with happen with the season’s final production.
“I have no idea how people will react,” Cantu said, “I have tried to tell the story as interestingly as possible and tell people the point.”
Six Characters in Search of an Author opens Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. and will play Friday and Saturday at the same time with a Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are currently on sale in the Ole Miss Box Office in the Student Union.