Playshop Presents “Wedding Band”

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By Joe Bruch

 

The Allegheny College school year consistently sees an array of productions put on by The Playshop Theater. With Bikeman and Medea in its wake, the Playshop season continues with Wedding Band, a fearless play by American playwright Alice Childress. Directed by Beth Watkins, Professor of Communication Arts and Theater, Wedding Band primarily follows a forbidden interracial relationship in South Carolina in the year 1918.

The show highlights the depth and complexity of human relationships, but has a certain focus on the different hardships women, specifically women of color, faced in the early 20th century. The play was written in the early 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement. It comes as no surprise that Wedding Band was a widely controversial play in its day, but those involved with the Playshop production can attest that the issues presented in the play still ring true in today’s culture.

“It is a play that has a lot of resonance with contemporary audiences,” said Watkins. “We still have problems today, and this play prompts them. The actors are wonderfully brave and talented, and are making fascinating discoveries about their characters that will create a strong empathetic response from audiences. This play will prompt a lot of discussion on campus. It doesn’t answer a lot of questions, but certainly raises them.”

Wedding Band also is the senior project for Maya Jones and Gretchen Beany. Jones is playing the central character Julia, the woman that finds herself in an interracial relationship with Herman, played by Austin Rock. With Wedding Band as a play touching on so many levels of human emotion, Jones was up for the challenge to provide an honest performance in the midst of completing her Senior Project.

“I want to show the complicated nature of interracial relationships and the critical conversations that need to take place so both partners in the relationship can thrive” Jones stated.

Along with the rest of the cast and crew, Jones believes this play is important for students on Allegheny’s campus to witness.

“Conversations around racism need to happen,” said Jones. “Racism is a structure that everyone is raised in. It affects the core beliefs that you have. In the play, you see how people are affected by the system of racism and how they either feed into it or fight against it.”

For Beany, the Stage Manager for Wedding Band, the performances by the actors alone should be enough to get a full house.

“We [the cast and crew] really function as a team,” said Beany. “That makes this production stand out to me, just how close the cast is. That really comes across in certain moments of the play, the cast really absorbs themselves in their characters.”

Beany has been heavily involved with The Playshop Theater on the production side of things for the majority of her time at Allegheny. As the stage manager for two Playshop shows in the past, this time around has proved to be the most memorable, in part because of the vital role the show plays as an element to her senior project.

“It’s been a really rewarding experience, to be a part of this show and watch it grow into more than just words on a page” Beany stated.

Audiences can share in Beany’s enthusiasm when the show opens on Feb. 27 and runs until Mar. 2. Evening performances begin at 8:00 p.m., with one matinee starting at 2:30 p.m. on Mar. 2. Performances will be held in the Gladys Mullenix Black Theatre in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

 

Mary Lyon, ‘15, reads through her script before a rehersal on Feb. 5, 2014. CAITIE McMEKIN/THE CAMPUS

Mary Lyon, ‘15, reads through her script before a rehersal on Feb. 5, 2014. CAITIE McMEKIN/THE CAMPUS

Maya Jones, '14 is performing as the central character Julia in Wedding Band as part of her senior project. CAITIE MCMEKIN/THE CAMPUS

Maya Jones, ’14 is performing as the central character Julia in Wedding Band as part of her senior project. CAITIE MCMEKIN/THE CAMPUS

Beth Watkins, professor of Communication Arts and managing director of the Gladys Mullenix Theater, is the director for the play Wedding Band.  Watkins has directed over fifty productions in her wime working in theater. CAITIE MCMEKIN/THE CAMPUS

Beth Watkins, professor of Communication Arts and managing director of the Gladys Mullenix Theater, is the director for the play Wedding Band. Watkins has directed over fifty productions in her wime working in theater. CAITIE MCMEKIN/THE CAMPUS

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