December 3, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio — Shirley Huston-Findley, associate professor of theatre and dance at The College of Wooster, will premier her new play, “Past Missing,” as a staged reading in Shoolroy Theatre (329 E. University St.) Friday (Dec. 3) at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday (Dec. 4), at 8:15 p.m.
The play is about Grace Belcor and her estranged relationship with her father, who suffers from dementia. Belcor receives a call from her father’s nursing home informing her that he has disappeared. She returns to her home in Quincy, Mass., where she discovers that her father may not have simply walked away. She spends the rest of the play trying to sort out what happened and why.
“I didn’t start out to write this particular play,” said Huston-Findley, who has conducted considerable research involving the impact of story telling on people with dementia. “It sort of took on a life of its own.”
Huston-Findley spent the fall semester of her leave conducting research in the Boston area, predominately Quincy. “I researched the language, the dialect, the cultural differences, and the geography so I could set it in a location and know about that location as well as the people and the history,” she said. “Quincy was selected from a number of areas because of its proximity to an old Naval Reserve base and a major international airport, both of which play key roles in the story.”
For Huston-Findley, this play is about family. She says that family happens, whether it is biological or not “Family is an odd creature,” she said. “It’s not something that you can choose. How we live with or reject family all depends upon our circumstances. It really becomes a story about ‘this is what I’ve been given, what am I going to do about it?’”
To keep things simple, Huston-Findley did the casting, while asking Mark Seamon, professor of acting and directing at Denison University, to do the directing.
“This is a very traditional step in the process of play writing,” said Huston-Findley, “It’s all about the text, the story — without all the bells and whistles. It helps us to find the gaping holes in plot (the big things) and those awkward lines that need to be tweaked (the details). It’s also an opportunity to watch and listen to a director and actors work their way through the narrative that has been living inside your head for a very long time, which is always a fearful yet rewarding part of the process.”
After the show, there will be a time for audience feedback, which Huston-Findley says is an essential point of doing it “The only way I can get the piece ready for the next stage (full production) is to take in all that is given to me as a result of the reading,” she said. “Without this important step, a playwright doesn’t have the opportunity to work the script, which, like any type of writing, is key.”
Admission is free and open to the public, but tickets must be picked up in advance. For more information, call 330-263-2241.
Written by Libby Fackler
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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