The St. Gregory’s University Theatre Department will kick off its 2013-14 performing arts season next Thursday when they stage Two Rooms, a play that deals with the effects of being taken hostage by terrorists.
Performances of Two Rooms will take place Oct. 3-5 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. at Sarkeys Performing Arts Center on the St. Gregory’s campus.
Written by Lee Blessing, Two Rooms is set during the Lebanese hostage crisis of the 1980s, but still retains a distinct resonance with events occurring in the world today. It’s central characters are “Michael,” played by Theatre senior James Mitchell, who has been taken hostage by terrorist forces in Lebanon, and his wife, “Lanie,” played by Theatre senior Kjersti King, who is left to deal with his captivity from their home in the U.S.
“This play talks about the human condition,” said SGU’s Director of Theatre Carly Conklin, “and what the human heart is capable of. It’s about this couple who love each other and want to be together in the midst of this terrible situation that is completely outside of their control.”
Directed by Theatre senior Macy Conley, Two Rooms alternates between the lives of the couple, each isolated in their own rooms. Michael is trapped alone with his own thoughts, while Lanie has to deal with the pressures exerted by a reporter, played by SGU Theatre veteran Connor Maguire, and a State Department official, played by Conklin, who each have their own agendas.
“Two Rooms was the show I brought to the table for our senior project,” Conley said. “I read it, and I felt for the characters. I felt sad because, even though it was written in the late 1980s, a lot of the themes are still really relevant to today. I thought a lot of people would be able to relate to the play and take something out of it.
“I think the character of Lanie affected me most deeply because, even though these horrific events happen in her life, she has the ability to not really blame anyone.”
It is Lanie’s ability to stay strong in a situation where she is actually powerless that resonated with lead actress King.
“It’s definitely the hardest role I’ve ever done,” said King, “and it’s a challenge. When I first read the play, it made me sick, but it really did make me want to challenge myself to take on a role like this.
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“Before I started this play, I knew that there was bad stuff happening in the world, and I knew that people were hurt. I hope this play will help people understand that and respect it more because it certainly made me.”
Playing Michael, the most isolated character in the play, is just as challenging for Mitchell, who is also the set designer for the show. He said it was Conley’s desire to focus on the confinement each of the characters feels that helped him connect with Michael and also influenced an innovative set design that he hopes will amplify that effect for the audience.
“The characters are both in their own physical rooms during the play,” Mitchell said, “but hopefully with the set, people will understand that there is a second room, a second world, that exists in Lanie’s mind.”
For all of the intensity and emotion that will be on display throughout the politically charged performance, at its heart, Two Rooms is a love story.
“It’s a very romantic play,” Maguire said. “The relationship between Michael and Lanie, it’s very touching and very beautiful, but still political, too. The first time I read it, it hit me. I didn’t expect some of the stuff that was coming. I can’t wait to see what the audience thinks.”
Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for children and can be purchased one hour prior to each performance at the box office located in the theatre lobby or by visiting www.stgregorys.edu/events and clicking the online purchase link.