The Eccles Theater in the Browning Center was packed as Weber State’s theater department put on an abstract play, which was free to students on November 15.
Audience members watched students actors perform “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” The show uses the concept of “meta”: the idea of characters in a play being aware that they are in a play, to create a complex story, which entertained the audience and challenged their traditional understanding of theater.
“It’s a lot to take in but totally worth it,” said Kierian Lockwood, Weber State student and attendee. “It’s enrapturing. It definitely doesn’t leave you where you don’t want to be.”
The production is a play within a play within a play. It begins with seven students in a WSU dress rehearsal. They are preparing to put on “The Plain Princess,” a real-life musical written by former WSU theater professor Jim Christian.
As they begin to rehearse “The Plain Princess,” they are met by six people of ambiguous origin who claim to be characters written in a story by an author who never finished their work.
The students within the play try to keep up as the unwritten characters’ drama begins to unfold. Later, the acting troupe tries to create a play, based on the story the unwritten characters are telling them about.
While some audience members enjoyed the performance, others were bewildered by the overall story.
“I’m still confused about the whole thing,” said Krystal Wolfley, laughing. “It’s like ‘Inception,’ I’ve seen that show nine times and I still don’t understand it. This was great but confusing.”
Not only was the story unique, the presentation was unusual as well. The show began without any formal introduction or non-verbal cue that the play would begin, such as lights dimming or music playing.
One of the cast members, who portrayed an amateur theater tech, was even sitting in the audience throughout most of the act.
After the play ended, no cast members or crew came out for ovations. There was no applause or fanfare. The play was simply over, and people began filing out into the lobby.
This style of wrapping-up may have been unusual, but it truly gave the audience the idea that this was actually a group experience within a rehearsal that they were witnessing, thus attempting to solidify the meta-style of the play.
Over 80 people came to see the performance. The main seating area was so full that Browning Center employees had to find extra seats to accommodate the viewers.
Attendees of the play included family and friends of cast members, along with theater students who have worked with those who were in the play.
“I worked with one of the actresses in a different musical,” said theatre student Harlee Sorrells, “and I’ve auditioned with all of them too.”
The show was a roller coaster of comedy, drama and hysteria, which kept audience emotionally involved throughout the entirety of the play.
“Six Characters in Search of an Author” may be called abstract, but its performance by the theater department truly blurred the lines between illusion and reality.
The play will continue to run at the Browning Center through Nov. 19.