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The Clarion University theatre department will present its season finale, Edward Albee’s “Seascape,” at 8 p.m. April 24-27 and at 2 p.m. April 28 in Marwick-Boyd Little Theatre.

Albee’s 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama explores the relationship between two very different couples who meet at the beach. Though set on fairly simplistic stage – a sand dune by the ocean – the show tackles a number of complex themes. Throughout the two-act play, the four characters will explore the evolution of human relationships, the oft-examined, never settled differences between men and women, and the nature of what it means to be human.

“It’s a great ‘what if’ play,” said “Seascape” director Marilouise Michel. “It brings up questions that we all have dealt with or will deal with in our lives.”

“Seascape” addresses a number of issues pertinent to the ongoing Mary L. Seifert series, “The Realities of Race.” As such, members of the theatre department will host a panel after the April 25 show, discussing some of the play’s underlying ideas.

Michel says she chose this play as the closer for the season because she worked on it as an undergraduate student herself.

“I wanted to give students the similar experience of working on a play by one of the greatest living American playwrights,” she said. Reflecting on her own involvement with the show, she recalled being “intrigued by the fact that four people could be so compelling.”

“I’m struck by how timeless the play is,” Michel said. “We can produce it in 2013 without changing a single line in the script.”

Because of the play’s 1975 origin, actors Nic Barilar, Arielle Fodor, Marie Karcher and Jack O’Keeffe are working closely with stage managers John Dumpman and Christian Ryan to become familiar with the historical elements in the script.

In fact, the actors have a lot more to learn than just their lines for “Seascape.” With the relatively small cast, Michel is helping the performers develop rich backstories and emotional identities for their characters, a method of acting developed by Russian director Constantin Stanislavski.

“I want to fill in the gaps,” Michel said. “It’s a way for the actors to develop experiences that their characters would have, but that they themselves don’t because they’re college-age students.”

By the end of the rehearsal process, Michel believes the actors will know when their characters would have graduated high school, what their weddings were like, and where they stand politically.

On top of the deep research, a few members of the “Seascape” cast are working with a personal trainer to prepare for their roles.

“The play presents some physical work for the actors that I think is really exciting,” Michel said.

Michel believes that “Seascape” is a production that even “non-theatre people” will enjoy.

“It’s funny,” she said. “There’s fascinating material on every page of the script, and it will live with you long after you leave the theatre.”

The “Seascape” cast includes: Barilar as Leslie; Fodor as Sarah; Karcher as Nancy; and O’Keeffe as Charlie.

The technical aspects of the show are the responsibilities of: assistant director Leon Alexander Avery III; stage managers Dumpman and Ryan; set designer Emily Smallwood; lighting designer Kendyl Yarzabek; props designer Matt Catledge; sound designer Hank Bullington; and costume designer Paige Crock.

Tickets, $12 for adults, $9 for children and free for Clarion University students with ID, are available by calling 814-393-ARTS or by clicking here.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

4/12/2013 9:05 AM

Clarion theatre heads to the shore with ‘Seascape’