“Titanic” and “The Actor’s Nightmare”

Alexandria Laflair, Staff Writer |

On October 12, the student-run production of “Titanic” and “The Actor’s Nightmare” premiered in the Hamblin Theatre, closing with a matinee on October 15. The show consisted of two one-act plays by Christopher Durang, separated by an intermission. This idea was pitched by  student director Kaelan Meers and chosen by the Mask and Hammer Club last semester.

The stage was surrounded by audience members on three sides, and the set was a simple balcony-like platform with enter/exit walkways on either side. “Titanic,” the first play of the evening, opened with a wealthy family having a seemingly normal dinner upon the Titanic when trouble strikes.

The SUNY Oneonta Theater Department described “Titanic” by saying, “The action of the play centers on an American family, the Tammurais, who are traveling aboard the Titanic. This is a wild drawing-room farce that happens to take place at sea. The humor is untamed, a nonstop flow of outrageous jokes, puns, and burlesque byplays.”

This one hour show was filled with unending surprises as each character would reveal their secrets to the others. From the start, numerous sexual innuendos, changing identities, and bossoming relationships intrigued the audience.

As a whole, the show was completely confusing and utterly risque, but that seemed to be the point of the show: to make the viewers fall off of their seats from laughing at the nonsensical nature of it all.

In regards to past performances of the show, Durang said, “I’ve seen the funny farce, but I’ve never seen the moments where weird and unexpected sadness presses itself through.  Maybe the play’s too silly for that to happen successfully.”

The second play had a perfectly explanatory title: “The Actor’s Nightmare.” The “actor” characters were forgetting all of their lines, and they did not know what they were doing at all.

The SUNY Oneonta Theater Department gave this play the following description: “Conceived as a companion piece to the author’s award-winning short play ‘Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it all for You,’ this hilarious spoof details the plight of a stranger who is suddenly pushed on stage to replace an ailing actor.”

This show had an array of jokes, as the main character George (who, at one point, is known as Stanley) goes through the show with the other actors attempting to make up lines that would make sense with each scene. Towards the end, he winds up on stage alone, telling the audience about his childhood while acting out soliloquies.

Since the shows required no big set changes and the props were limited, the use of music, sound effects, and lighting were instrumental to the storytelling. A wavy blue light was used to convey water; a spotlight was the “prop” for George’s scene alone on stage; and rumbling sounds signified that the ship was being tested or starting to sink.

According to Kaelan’s “director’s notes” in the play’s programme, he is a theater major, and he is very thankful for everyone on the production team.

Rather than describing the shows on paper, he simply said, “Let them speak for themselves.”

The next SUNY Oneonta Theater Department performance will be “Romeo and Juliet” in the Goodrich Theatre from November 2 to the 5 — and it’s free for all students!

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