The Experimental Theatre Company presents ‘Blue Heart’

Adam Zakaria (left) and Kindle Cowger (right) play one of the mother and son relationships presented in the play. Darlene Wendels / The Collegian

The student run production of the Experimental Theatre Company’s “Blue Heart,” will debut Friday a tale of sadness, comedy, intrigue and above all, what director Austin Yarborough calls a “play about the words left unsaid; a play about “what if?”

The play takes part in two one act plays that both focus on parental relationships. “Heart’s Desire”  focuses on a father and a daughter, while “Blue Kettle” is about a mother and her son.

“One is about waiting, and the other about searching,” Yarborough said.

One of the most difficult aspects of the production for many was the language, Yarborough said. A giant feat for many of the actors includes the first act, which is repeated 26 times in several minute integrals, performed in a plethora of ways. At some points, the actors perform the scene backwards, in Spanish, as a musical, and in fast-forward.

The technical aspect of the play was daunting for many, Yarborough added, but he believes it will be an exceptional performance, and as with many absurdist plays, not what it seems on the surface.

“I truly feel they’ve tapped into something deeper here,” Yarborough said. “I think it’s very easy to take this show at face value as a comedy of random things, but it touches on some very important life issues like death, feminism, relationships and what role language plays in each.”

For senior theater arts major Kevin Eldridge, who plays two different fathers in acts one and two, he called his performance a labor of love.

“Every time I do a scene I learn something new about my character even if I’ve said the same lines 50 times,” Eldridge said. “There is a story these characters share before the show begins and well after it ends and it was challenging for me to present that to the audience.”

The power of language was another element highlighted within the absurdist production. For senior actor Adam Zakaria, he praises the playwright for her ability to mask intentions through language, and yet keep the audience attentive to every word.

“We say something, but mean the other thing to keep the ‘peace’ of the relationship rather than saying it truthfully,” Zakaria said. “I feel that Caryl Churchill, the playwright, beautifully captured that idea.”

Whether learning to trust one another on set, or learning more about the depths of their characters, Eldridge said the performance was one to see.

“It was bizarre, crazy, unique, weird, interesting and brilliant and that is what drew me to want to be in this show,” Eldridge said. “We are all so diverse and it was really exciting to play off of so many personalities and to find a group of people who can go from strangers to wonderful friends in such a short amount of time is really inspiring.”

Yarborough said that he was excited to push his actors to take on such a challenging performance and was interested in picking apart so thoroughly the power of language, the essence of communication and of humanity.

“The last few pages of the script scared the hell out of them, but practice makes perfect,” Yarborough said. “My actors and designers are working their fingers off to make this a memorable show, and I truly feel they’ve tapped into something deeper here. How do we get what we want from other people when we forget how to communicate?”

“Blue Heart” will run this weekend starting on Friday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Lab School Theatre Building, Room 101.

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