December 4, 2017 at 2:30pm
Dane Lisser

Tragicomedy portrays emotion through movement and physical acting

Millikin University's School of Theatre and Dance continues its 2017-18 performance season with "Wintertime," a production written by Charles L. Mee. Performances will be held at Albert Taylor Theatre Dec. 7-9. The show is directed by Kevin Hoffmann, assistant professor of theatre at Millikin.

The tragicomedy spotlights the highs and lows of bringing others into a family. The show follows Jonathan who brings his girlfriend, Ariel, to his family's vacation home for a romantic weekend. Unfortunately, his parents, each with a lover of their own, have had the same idea. Shattered romances, deep passion, indescribable pain and dark comedy abound in this production about dysfunctional relationships.

Hoffmann says the play has music and dancing, but it is not a musical. The actors portray their emotions through movement and physical acting.

"Everyone is so involved with one other," said Hoffmann. "There's a son who shows up and brings his girlfriend, and he plans to propose marriage but it doesn't work because he brings her into this atmosphere that is so dysfunctional."

The actors enjoy the story as well as acting in a diverse play. In a recent interview with the Herald & Review, Ashleigh Martens, a senior theatre major from Victoria, British Columbia, described the style of the play as realism interlaced with absurdism.

Wintertime

"It is a switch when you have to go back and forth between the two," she said. "It was interesting to navigate."

Hoffmann says the dialogue drives the production.

"There are a lot of monologues and scenes that are intense," said Hoffmann. "The characters get to this place where they are experiencing such emotion that they must act out in a very exaggerated and physical way that involves music. The music underscores the production."  

Hoffmann chose the play because of the great number of opportunities for his students in a large cast of 10.

"All of the students will learn and showcase their talents," said Hoffmann. "I think it's definitely a comedy because I think we go to the theatre to laugh and I think we will laugh at these characters. Hopefully, if we've done our job well, we will empathize with the characters."

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