In Belleville, Paris, Americans Abby and Zach are isolated in more ways than one—they abandoned their life in the states for an idyllic existence in Europe.
In the play, which opens at Kansas State this weekend, this is where their picturesque relationship begins to crack and the truth floods in.
“That’s the point of theatre and art, to show people what they don’t see in their everyday life, and to show that it’s a bigger problem than they think,” said Teva Spencer, junior in theatre and director of the staged reading.
“Belleville” confronts how real and active emotional abuse is in our society, but since it does not arise in physical pain, it isn’t deemed as a form of abuse.
“This play is about not dealing with your mental health and how that can come crashing down on you in very unexpected ways,” Spencer said.
A staged reading isn’t a regular performance. Actors hold onto their scripts and have minimal blocking, giving actors an intimate relationship with the content.
“A staged reading is a chance for actors and directors to develop a very personal relationship with the script,” Spencer said. “It gives you time to find out what the story really means because you don’t have to worry about memorizing your lines.”
Because the cast isn’t concerned with memorizing lines, this also gives them a chance to focus more on character development.
“A few things occur and reveal the deep underlying issues,” Brooke Griggs, freshman in theatre and actress in “Belleville,” said. “It talks about relationship abuse and how it is often hidden.”
Tara Sitzmann, freshman in theatre, is performing in a K-State theatre production for the first time.
Sitzmann said the opportunity has made her feel like she has learned how to form a better character.
The development of characters and storyline is a collaborative process under Spencer’s direction. Spencer said she wants the cast to be comfortable and capable of sharing their ideas for the performance.
“I want to make sure everyone is involved as they want or need to be so they feel comfortable,” Spencer said. “The actors are great; they are putting in 110 percent.”
Brett Boline, sophomore in architectural engineering and actor in the play, said Spencer is a very understanding director.
“She lets you do things how it makes sense to you, and how it feels right to you,” Boline said.
Although the content is heavy, it isn’t devoid of humor.
“My selling point is that we talk about weed,” Sitzmann said. “So if you wanna see, you should definitely come.”
Spencer said she chose this piece because it is a situation that hits close to home. She said she hopes that individuals who see the performance will get something out of it.
“I will be happy if just one person comes to this show and gets something out of it,” Spencer said.
Tickets are available at ksu.universitytickets.com. The play is free to attend, but a ticket will reserve your seat. The show is at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Purple Masque Theatre.