Students and staff collaborate on fall production of “Bus Stop”
DramaCentre’s fall production, “Bus Stop,” written by William Inge and directed by Professor Patrick Kagan-Moore, will run Nov. 9-12. The three-act romance is set in a 1950s roadside diner 30 miles west of Kansas, where a bus full of passengers has been stranded until morning due to snow.
“We wanted to work in American psychological realism,” says Kagan-Moore of the decision to produce the play. “William Inge was a hugely popular playwright during the 1950’s, and I’d never directed any of his plays. The challenge and opportunity for the design team, of crafting a realistic small-town diner, was also an important factor in doing the play. As it is, I like the play better now than when we decided to produce it.”
Olivia Palmer ’14, who plays a young waitress, believes the audience will find it easy to sympathize with the characters.
“‘Bus Stop’ is a show that everyone can relate to,” Palmer says. “The play revolves around the hardships of growing up and finding out who you are and where you fit into this world. That journey is never easy and can be full of mistakes, but I think this play shows that it’s those mistakes that help us realize where we want to go, and more importantly, they give us the strength to keep trying.”
The play also delves deeply into the meaning of interpersonal relationships.
“The play is very much about love, in all of its different forms: how a person’s understanding of it is affected by his or her age and gender, and the different ways that love is expressed by people with different understandings of it,” says Geoff Blum ’12, who plays a former college professor charming the waitress (Palmer) with poetry.
While “Bus Stop” deals with some heavy material, the cast and crew have had good times during rehearsals.
“I find rehearsals exhilarating as a general rule; it’s just fascinating to work deep into the codes and conditions of human behavior,” Kagan-Moore says. “As one of my favorite aesthetic philosophers would say, drama isn’t an imitation of life — it’s an imitation of the life of human feeling.”
Members of the Centre community might recognize another familiar face onstage during “Bus Stop”: Director of Public Safety Gary Bugg makes his DramaCentre debut in the play as a local sheriff. For Bugg, the best part of being involved with the play has been his interactions with students and the dramatic arts department.
“It’s been eye-opening for me to see the dedication and talent of the professional staff and students working behind the scenes on the set, costumes, lighting, props, stage management and more,” Bugg says. “This experience has defined collaboration and teamwork for me, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”
Everyone involved with “Bus Stop” agrees that working with Kagan-Moore has been a highlight of the production.
“Working with Patrick has been both a wonderful and challenging experience,” Palmer says. “He pushes us to work hard, but no matter what, he is always there to support us.”
“I’ve never seen a more invigorating and knowledgeable director, and observing his work and collaboration with the designers and performers has been a joy,” echoes assistant director Andrew Stairs ’14.
The cast and crew hope the audience comes away with a message of shared humanity.
“We want people engaged in the lives of these characters, so much so that they forget they’re watching a play,” Kagan-Moore says.
“It seems to me that the theme is one of redemption and growth,” adds Bugg. “I hope that the audience is entertained, has a few laughs, and leaves knowing that people can change, can forgive and can certainly learn from their mistakes.”
The performances begin at 8 p.m. each night of the run. Tickets are free for Centre students, faculty and staff, and $10 for adults and $5 for seniors or students from other institutions. Purchase tickets by calling the Norton Center for the Arts box office at 1-877-HIT-SHOW or at the box office the day of the performance.