Theatre department’s performance of ‘Time Stands Still’ explores acceptance, relationships

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A complex juxtaposition of conflict with joy was captured moment-by-moment in the K-State theatre department’s debut of “Time Stands Still.” The show opened Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Nichols Theatre. 

“Time Stands Still” is a play written by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Donald Margulies that premiered in 2009. Set in Brooklyn, N.Y., the plot focuses on a couple, both journalists, who are now home after one experiences an accident. 

Sarah Goodwin, played by BeckiJo Neill, junior in theatre, suffers from shrapnel scars on the right side of her body from a roadside bomb that detonated while she was taking pictures of the war in Iraq. The incident causes her boyfriend, James Dodd, played by Kyle Myers, senior in theatre, to pursue a safer, more normal life for them both. 

The show’s director, Dwight Tolar, assistant professor of theatre, chose the show because of its message.

“This play was one of four that I was looking at,” Tolar said. “The idea of finding purpose, and acceptance. Those really ring to me.”

The characters Sarah and James are frequently visited by photo editor and longtime friend Richard Ehrlich, played by Mathew Ellis, junior in theatre, and his girlfriend, Mandy Bloom, played by Hannah Miller, sophomore in theatre. In addition to featuring the lives of Sarah and James, the play also focuses on the friendship between all four people, and the impact one relationship has on the other. 

Miller said that the experience of a four-person cast was influential in several ways.

“Of course, it was much more intimate,” Miller said. “You have more room to grow and develop character, and you get to know your cast mates really well. It was very insightful. I learned a lot.”

Rehearsals for the show started soon after school began this semester.

“Rehearsals have been going since the last week of August,” Miller said. 

According to Tolar, the month of work produced good results,

“They have worked very, very hard,” Tolar said. “This was a nice challenge, with a small cast.”

As the play unfolds, the audience discovers the problems lying beneath the playful surface of James and Sarah’s relationship. Affairs, guilt, blame and pressure drive the couple to make decisions that they later regret. 

“I don’t have much experience with relationships that were trouble,” said Austin McCambell, freshman in creative writing. “[The show] isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it went really well.”

McCambell said that he noticed the technical aspects of the show as much as the acting performances. 

“If you watched the floor, you could see light patterns,” McCambell said. “They came together during uplifting moments, but they broke apart during bad times, almost like broken glass.”

The cast of the show created both playful scenes and solemn auras as demonstrated by the crowd’s switches from laughter to sudden silence. Miller said that working comedy into the drama was difficult.

“It was hard, not having an audience while rehearsing,” Miller said. “So, this being the first night we did it, they reacted way more than I expected. That felt so good.”

Tolar said that the show was effective because of the means it used to display its theme.

“Acceptance happens in so many ways for so many different people,” Tolar said. “The process of maintaining friendships; there’s death, all of these different modes of acceptance, and moving on.”

Audience members also found meaning in the performance.

“It kind of showed how, if you live in the past, you miss the present,” McCambell said. 

“Time Stands Still” will continue its run tonight and Saturday, with performances Oct. 18-21 as well. 

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