Picnic gives audience something to digest
Don’t be misled by the cheerful title—William Inge’s Picnic isn’t all sunshine and lemonade.
“The show sometimes has some pretty heavy moments,” sophomore Lorelei Tinaglia (Irma Kronkite) said. “One of the main themes is where America’s going, so it [shows] the society changing.”
Sophomore Emily Fitterer (Flo Owens) agrees that the show’s emphasis on the shifting society is important for a play that is “very real to the ‘50s.”
“It’s more of a slower-moving plot, but that’s done purposely to make it parallel to a person’s life,” she said. “This show touches a lot on how women were treated in the ‘50s. They had their lives planned out for them.”
The show, according to Fitterer, is an “everyday life” show that, while focusing primarily on the characters’ relationships, also has its comedic moments. Though a play centered around daily life in the 1950s might initially seem simplistic, cast members hope to capture audience members’ attentions by elevating the script’s underlying theme.
“Look for the deeper meaning in [Picnic]—don’t just take it at face value,” Tinaglia said. “We try and show the deeper meaning of America, where it’s going and how it reflects how we’ve changed as a society since then.”
While Picnic is under the direction of assistant professor of theatre Dan Workman, much of the behind-the-scenes work has been left to students.
“Students have set-designed and light-designed and sound-designed and costume-designed, so it’s almost an entirely student-run show with faculty mentors,” Fitterer said. “It’s so cool to see what the students in the theatre department can create.”
Picnic has provided its cast and crew with more challenges than complex topics and leadership positions, though.
“I think the most challenging part of this process is we’ve kind of put on this show really quickly,” Tinaglia said. “We just started about a month ago, so we’ve been doing all of this in one month.”
Though Tinaglia notes that the cast has been “coming along great” in the weeks leading up to the performance, involved students have had to learn their parts quickly.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve discovered is I don’t know how to fight people,” freshman Matthew Schilling said. “I’m supposed to mock choking someone and punching them, and it’s a bit interesting, because I’ve never fought anyone. I don’t go out brawling in my free time, so there’s been a lot of time devoted to teaching me how to ‘punch’ someone without actually punching them.”
Fitterer agrees that the short amount of rehearsal time adds pressure.
“I don’t have kids of my own, so I don’t know what it feels like,” she said. “It’s been challenging for me to play this older character who is significantly older than [me] and significantly older than anyone else in the show.”
Though the show has presented some obstacles for members of the cast and crew, student participants remain confident that the show will entertain audience members.
“One of the things I think is good about this play is [that] the majority of the cast is supposed to be playing college-aged students, so it’s something we can all relate to,” Schilling said. “[Picnic] is stories about relationships and the problems that come between romance and friendship. It’s something where there should be a character you can relate to.”
Picnic opened Wednesday, April 30 in the Edith Mortensen Center, and it will run through Saturday, May 3. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. each night, and a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday.