CU Theatre Department minds its plays and tables


Photo by Sarah Brewer

James Meeks

Staff Writer 

The Theatre Department is getting ready to open the curtain for their second play of the semester, “Table Manners.”

This play, which is a part of the “Year of Manner and Comical Mishaps” theme, will be directed by the department’s new Assistant Professor Dr. Deidre Onishi.

Dr. Onishi received her Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin. Before coming to CU, she taught at the York College of Pennslyvania, and Dr. Onishi said she specializes in non-western theatre.

“I am particularly interested in Japanese theatre,” Onishi said. “The one that I am most interested in is the comic form known as Kyogen.”

Dr. Onishi said that Kyogen are short Japanese plays which performed with stylized movements on stories usually about a servant outwitting a master.

“Table Manners” is the second play in Alan Ayckbourn’s 1975 trilogy known as The Norman Conquests. The plays contained in the trilogy takes place within the same time frame; in one play, someone could walk off stage, only to enter the stage in another play within the three-part production.

According to Dr. Onishi, the production will feature six characters in a dining room, and each character plays a major role in the plot.

“The play is about Norman, who takes his sister-in-law out for a weekend away, and it starts out about an affair that may or may not happen,” Dr. Onishi said.

Dr. Onishi explained that the reason the department can go right into second play without performing the first one is because of the fact that each of the three plays has their own standalone story and can be played in any order.

Although these plays can stand on their own, Dr. Onishi has added notes in the program that will be passed before the performance to explain the relationships between the characters.

“The story is less important than the characters,” Dr. Onishi said. “The characters are what we watch and what we get to like or not like in the play. It is definitely a character-based story.”

According to Dr. Onishi, what the audience will see of the characters is how they are at this particular play; in the other plays of the series they are slightly different, as more character elements come to light when people watch the whole sequence.

Dr. Onishi explained that people can relate to parts of the characters in the play, and although the issues are not quite as current, but the play still addresses in the production that she feels are still significant.

“There are still issues about what the woman’s place in the home is and what a marriage is, and those kinds of questions I think are still relevant,” Dr. Onishi said. “Some of those issues have calmed down since the 70s, but are still front and center in this story.”

Audiences can expect comical mishaps in this play, for Dr. Onishi has her stage crew prepped with a mop for some of the messy food fight scenes. The actors will fight with actual food, which Dr. Onishi feels will bring a good laugh to the audience.

Dr. Onishi will also be directing the only serious drama play in the series, “Nora,” which is scheduled to open during the spring 2013 semester. “Nora” is Igmar Bergman’s version of the play “A Doll’s House,” which revolves around the titular character dealing with the fallout of her husband being blackmailed.

“Table Manners” will open on Nov. 15. Tickets are $10 for military, senior citizens and Cameron faculty and staff, $12 for all other adults and free to students with a valid CU ID.

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