The APU theater program debuted its first play of the spring as a comedy. “7 stories,” directed by Susan Isaacs, opened Thursday night at the Warehouse Theater, with showings the following Friday and Saturday.
The play, written by Morris Panych, is a comedy with serious undertones. The main character, known as The Man, played by senior BFA acting major Scott Kuiper, is seeking more to life besides a career, relationships and sex, parties and social media, beauty and art, insecurities and youth, money and success and even one’s own religion. And he does all of this standing on a ledge seven stories high.
“Especially during our period of life (early 20s), everybody is searching for what the meaning of their life is supposed to be,” Kuiper said. “It is a different environment at APU because we are preached to on Monday, Wednesday and Friday that God is the meaning of life, but I think that is a copout if we do not also take notice of the fact that people are also grasping at other things and that is simply part of the human characteristic. This show takes all of these characteristics and puts them on display and gives them a great commentary to allow the audience to decide for themselves.”
The play is full of over-the-top characters who are portrayed as extremes to their own vices. For example, the character Charlotte, played by junior BFA acting major Mackenzie Breeden, struggles with the human condition in lust, sex and relationships.
“[Charlotte] represents what that looks like in our culture and how it is exaggerated in our media entertainment,” Breeden said.
Taylor Wesselmen, a senior BFA acting major, reprises the role of Percy, who is obsessed with social media and abuses the word “friend.” He makes the number of “friends” he has in his network more important than the qualities of those relationships. According to Wesselmen, the actors saw the characters more like ideas than people because most people in this generation could fit into one of the categories of human vanity.
“It’s something everyone can relate to and sometimes people just need to laugh at themselves,” said junior BFA cinematic arts major Corban Aspegren, who plays Leonard. “This show is an outlet where people can laugh about themselves because you can totally see yourself in every window on that stage.”
Director Susan Isaacs said the play illustrates a man’s search for higher meaning in a life without God.
“The play is an illustration of what a post-faith world looks like,” Isaacs said. “Remove God, but you still search for a sense of meaning. The Man is looking for a reason not to jump, but none of these characters have the answer. They’re too busy distracting themselves with outrageous uses of sex, money, power, religion and friendships — all which come up empty.”
According to Isaacs, the inspiration for the play came from Rene Magritte’s comments about his painting “Son of Man,” where a man’s face is hidden by a green apple.
“Magritte was interested in the tension the painting created, because we want to see what is hidden,” she said. “I think this is like the Man, who wants to peer into what he can’t yet see.”
Isaacs described the show as a “Saturday Night Live” sketch comedy, and said she was very satisfied with the cast and technical crew and all the work they had to put into the show in order to arrive at opening night. According to cast members, upon receiving their roles after auditions last semester, they had to come back a week early from winter break to begin rehearsals.
There is still one more showing Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. for $5-$15. APU Theater’s next production will be a “Night of One Acts” starting March 20.