Posted at 11:30 a.m., March 8, 2016

Political play proves its relevance

'You turn on the TV and see a lot of people yelling, and I'm afraid young people think this is what politics is'

-Theatre and communications instructor Jason Pasqua

The Laramie County Community College Playhouse will showcase “Walter Cronkite is Dead” by Joe Calarco at 7:30 p.m. on April 14-16 and 21-23.

The play, set in present day, tells of a comedic examination of two very different women: Margaret, played by Mac Marino, and Patty, played by Kaitlynn DeVoss, plus understudy Michelle Barlow, are forced to have a conversation with one another at Reagan International Airport while stranded because of a fierce storm.

Throughout the play, differences between the two begin to show as each talk to one another about their views on the world and their families and we find out each are at different ends of the political spectrum.
“Airports are where special rules apply and that is kind of the conceit of the play,” Theatre and Communications Instructor Jason Pasqua said about the setting’s significance to the characters’ overall interaction. “They get to know each other, they become friends and more importantly they learn something about themselves.”

Choosing the play

One of the primary reasons in choosing the play was the challenge of its setting. Designing and building the look of a restaurant/café with which the characters find themselves in is very difficult, said Pasqua. Many people have a clear view of how an airport looks like: clean lines and a lot of stainless steel so Pasqua, with the help of volunteers from his production class and around 17 others with art and construction backgrounds, took on how to make it all look authentic.

Pasqua also chose the play because of its heavy reliance on acting itself.

Like his fall production of “Rounding Third” by Richard Dresser that also involved only two characters, Pasqua has seen that smaller plays present certain kinds of challenges such as teaching students not to rely on scene changes, multiple locations, etc., to hold the attention of their audience but to use the words the playwright has given them and create an urgent pursuit of need behind those words.

In communication with the playwright himself, Pasqua is taking his actors through the rehearsal process but also having them ask questions and receive feedback with Calarco over facetime or calls to see what are some of his thoughts.

Acting in political play

“It’s all completely planned but you need to make it look like it isn’t,” he said about helping his students develop skills that make their acting not look like pretending but that they’re listening. “Every single moment is visible because of the small cast, and the audience isn’t going to miss it, which means you have to be truthful and if you can do that then that’s good acting.”

Pasqua views the acting to help bring about the underlying themes of the play and make it apparent that he chose it specifically for the spring production.

“You’ve got to make drama relevant to what is going on because it’s not an accident that it will be going up in an election year and through a primary season,” he said, meaning drama has to be relevant and a reflection of real life. “It has to tie into something that is part of the larger world.”

Whether those who attend the performance are politically engaged or not is not Pasqua’s concern, because whether one is or not doesn’t mean they haven’t seen or heard about the current political climate on television or the Internet. Portrayal of politics in the media has become much more of who is up, who is down, who said what and Pasqua thinks it’s hard to disagree with that.

“You turn on the TV and you see a lot of people yelling, and I’m afraid young people think this is what politics is because it seems to have turned into a reality show,” Pasqua said, adding that his views on the current political election have him wondering about what it would be like and if it would be viewed differently if it wasn’t in its current state. “It all just looks like yelling but what if it was just talking?” he said, “Maybe people wouldn’t be as turned off at it.”

Produced through arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, tickets are $10 for general admission and free for LCCC students. For reservations, contact 307-432-1626 or email the box office at boxoffice@lccc.wy.edu.