Experimental Theatre Company does murder mystery

Director Jana Price prepares actors before the rehearsal for "And Then There Were None," the upcoming production by Fresno State's Experimental Theatre Company on Thursday, Nov. 2. (Eric Zamora/The Collegian)

While Halloween may have passed, the theatrical nature of the holiday lives on in “And Then There Were None.”

The upcoming Fresno State Experimental Theatre Company’s production takes the celebrated novel by Agatha Christie and transforms it into an immersive work for the stage.

The popular novel’s storyline focuses on a group of 10 people lured to an island by the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. Owen. When they are all together, a record accusing people of murder plays while they are stranded on the island.

“There is so much of our pop culture that uses this story… yet when I talk to people about the play, they’re like ‘yeah, I have no idea about the play,’” said director Jana Price.

The Experimental Theatre Company is an entirely student-run organization. Students make up all of the roles from the actors, the director and costuming.

“It’s student-run and we’re putting it on in less rehearsal time,” Price said. “We can only be in [the lab school theatre] for a certain amount of time, and we don’t get the four hours that a show like ‘Native Son’ would get to rehearse at night.”

Preparation for “And Then There Were None” began six weeks ago, with students rehearsing during the week for two hours from 4 to 6 p.m.

“This is my second ETC production I’ve done so far and I’ve really liked it, just through the kind of personal feel that ETC has and everybody working together,” said Michael S. Flores, an actor in the play.

As a student at University High School, Price was a part of the production of “The Mousetrap,” another play by Agatha Christie which was performed at the Lab School 101 Theatre.

“Murder mystery feels so cool in [the lab school], but what if we, instead of building a set, had the building itself be the set so [the actors] actually go outside when they go outside and use the windows as windows,” Price said.

With the unique usage of the setting, audience members become a part of the production, rather than just viewers looking at the 11 actors in the play.

“It’s not too crazy stressful [rehearsing for the play]. You still have fun,” said Ian Jones, an actor in the play.

Along with the actors leaving the theater, special effects add to the immersive qualities of this production.

“We’re hoping the audience leaves scared, on the edge of their seats, [and] a little unsure of going into the dark parking lot,” Price said.

“And Then There Were None” will be showing Nov. 9 at 4 p.m., Nov. 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. in Lab School 101. General admission tickets are $5 and can be purchased online at fresnostate.edu/theatrearts or by calling 559-278-2216.

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