When you think of a play you think, beginning, middle and end. Usually, you leave the theater thinking “wow that was a wonderful show.” Stephanie Barraco wanted to make her audience think and not be told what was going on, and to get involved with the surroundings and not just observe her play “Far Away.”
“Far Away” was written by a playwright from London, Caryl Churchill and was presented by Barraco Sept 16-18 at the University of La Verne. Barraco chose this unique play for her senior project.
“(Churchill) has a different way of writing,” Barraco said. “She usually uses more controversial issues. She likes to be confusing, but in some weird way it all makes sense.”
Barraco is in her last year at ULV. With her school years coming to an end she had to choose a play, a play that was not only a challenge to her, but some kind of an experience that she could learn from and take with her into her future.
According to a recent article in the Financial Times: “Churchill writes the plays she needs to write, not the plays that theatres want to present.
She wants people to think about what they see and somehow try to compare it to life and society, just like Barraco wanted her audience to think.
The play had a small cast with three main characters. The artists who performed were Barraco as leading role Joan, Hilary Hahn, a ULV alumna, as Aunt Harper, and junior Christopher Smith as Todd. It was directed by junior James Darrah and was the scenic design thesis of senior Tirzah Rodgers.
“Far Away” is difficult to explain, it has to be experienced. The play was extremely powerful and somewhat dark. It began in a dimly lit room where the audience was welcomed and escorted into the theater.
The reason for being escorted was due to the fact that the minute you walked into the theater the play began.
The stage was centered between about 40 seats in a semi-circular position where throughout the play you had characters coming out of all angles of the theater. “The set speaks more about the play,” said Darrah: “we are taking a different approach then anyone has ever taken it.”
In a sense “Far Away” has no definition.
“It is one of those plays that you can’t sit and make sense of,” Barraco said.
It is a play that definitely sticks in your mind while you try to figure out what Churchill was thinking when she wrote it, and what message she was trying to give the audience.
Barraco explained that “it’s a parallel to life its not reality so you try to make sense of it, and that’s a big reason why people didn’t understand it because they would sit there and try to make connections from the first act to the second act.”
The play was set up with a prologue and three following acts, but one had almost nothing to do with the other.
It was the same characters, but it seemed like they were in a different era but a couple years later.
It may have taken place during a war, but then there really is nothing mentioned about combat, and somehow the audience knows it is about the world coming to an end.
Churchill does not pin point the play to any particular thing or event that has happened but it is a generalized version of things that can happen or are happening today.
If you truly think about the title “Far Away” and try to make some connection of it with the play it is extremely difficult.
“If you really think about it we are far away from so many things, we are far away from reality, we are far away from what we think is war, and what is going on in other countries, its far away and that doesn’t affect me and so we don’t think about it until its right there with us and its not far away anymore,” Barraco said.
She added: “Everyone is going to get something different out of it” and she is absolutely right. It was definitely a standing ovation to the actors and hats off to the director and the scenic designer.
Melissa Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com.