The University of Idaho Theatre Department’s presentation of “Lesbians, Toasters and Drag Queens, Oh My!” Friday in the Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) gave insight to the meaning and importance of theater.
Directors Linsday Mammone and Shea King, along with playwright Robert Macke, explained their theater processes, ideas and opinions. Between the second and third floor of the building, the audience sat on concrete bleachers with individual padded seats to observe and interact with the speakers below.
The event was part of the IRIC Seminar Series that began in 2017. The series initially focused on research presentations, but last semester began to host a variety of focuses. There is still progress to be made, but the goal is to have a different exhibition every Friday afternoon, IRIC facility manager Russell McClanahan said.
Macke spoke first and discussed his steps as a playwright, specifically for the showing of “The Last Mother in the House of Chavis.” Macke said the hope is to have multiple interpretations for a script to produce aspects that weren’t originally thought of.
“I am obsessed with delicious dialogue,” he said. “Moments don’t just manifest themselves without the open collaboration of all artists…What I picture in my mind is something different than what is actually performed, and to me that is absolutely beautiful.”
Macke continued to focus on the creativity in “Last Mother” and his desire to represent a real family dynamic, with hardship and pain that truly isn’t as perfect as TV shows or movies portray.
Mammone followed up Macke’s conversation with thoughts on her step by step processes. She said she was asked to be the director of “Last Mother” last August and decided she would take on the challenge.
The friendly and collaborative process with Macke is something that all productions should have to welcome new ideas, Mammone said.
“By allowing the actors and crew to speak to their own instincts, it created a production that wasn’t solely dictated by Macke and myself,” she said.
Lastly, King outlined the background information for “The Children’s Hour” as the director and talked about his personal connection to the art of theater. King said the main question “The Children’s Hour” generates is “what does somebody else’s life mean to you?”
“There is an essential need for human connection all the time, anywhere and with anyone,” King said. “We are stuck in a world where people are so afraid of fitting in and being judged that they choose to conform and create these definitions of right and wrong.”
King said theater in 2018 is an opportunity for people to come together to share, enjoy and mainly question performances.
Jesse Hampsch, a composer and graduate school writer, said he enjoyed the presentation of narrative processes and is currently collaborating with King for a musical production.
“There is importance in working with material from living playwrights like Macke,” Hampsch said. “I am working with musicals because I believe that music has a powerful way to translate human emotion.”
King said that theater is thriving every year more than people expect.
“The art itself is about human connection and storytelling, not maintaining a full house for profit,” he said.
Correction: Feb. 8, 2018
Due to a reporter error, a previous version of this article misnamed Shea King’s play as “A Children’s Story.” The correct name for the play is “The Children’s Hour.”