| 03.17.2018

‘Play’ing baseball on stage — Three Strikes to First play reaches sports fans, topic of morality


One and a half years ago, Quinn Hatch was studying at the University of Idaho, typing a screenplay on his laptop.Now a UI Master of Fine Arts graduate, Hatch has seen the sets built, costumes made and some of his own friends play out that same screenplay, titled “Three Strikes to First.”
“It was nothing less than incredible,” said Hatch about the play that premiered Jan. 31 and continues through Feb. 10.
A baseball fan and theater lover, Hatch combined the two to create Matt, the general manager of a fictional baseball team, played by second-year MFA student Travis Gray.
Matt manages the Seattle Sun Dodgers and is going through a divorce. He and a player’s agent — named Jordan, played by UI student Tiffany Flory — have a one-night stand and realize the agent’s client has been accused of taking steroids. The two try to cover up the act before the player’s career is ruined.
“Matt tends to be a bit of a jerk,” Gray said. “He doesn’t have much sympathy or empathy. He just kind of snaps his fingers. And he’s a hothead.”
For Gray, playing the character of Matt related to his own life.
“We both can be very quick to jump to conclusions and kind of expect people to just fall in line with what we want. We have certain expectations, and sometimes those aren’t met,” Gray said. “But I’d like to think I’m not that much of a jerk.”
And for Gray, playing Matt highlighted some differences in his acting career.
“In my undergrad, I’ve worked for playwrights that are dead, and in this case, the playwright (Hatch) is a friend of mine,” Gray said. “He’s not dead. He’s at the UI as a co-collaborator at this production.”
Plus, Gray isn’t a huge sports fan, as he said he devotes most of his time to the theater.
“To me (initially) it was just a play about baseball. It didn’t have as much substance as it does now,” he said. “(Now) it’s about what will you do to preserve your current way of living: Will you lay it all on the line and do some rather unsavory things to maintain your lifestyle and getting what you want?”
Hatch said it asks the question: How far are we willing to go for money and prestige?
“Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m just running around on stage, being the alpha male, being the jerk, but the part that I enjoy the most, and most actors — and as far as I can tell, the audience — is when things fall apart and I’ve just given up,” Hatch said. “(Jordan and I) get to share this tender moment and let down our guard.”
While Hatch said “Three Strikes to First” is a drama, he said it is an overall fun and entertaining show.
“There are underlying themes of baseball, but you don’t have to understand baseball (to enjoy it),” he said. “Baseball is more of the backdrop, but it’s a lot more about morality.”
Lindsey Treffry can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

“Three Strikes to First”
Location: UI Hartung Theater
Time: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7-9 and 2 p.m. Feb 10
Admission: General admission is $10. Free for UI students and $8 for UI faculty or WSU students.
For tickets,  go online or call the ticket office at 208-885-7212. Tickets may also be purchased at the box office the night of the show.

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