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Western theatre delves into magical realism

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” opens next week

By: Ashton Newton
Entertainment Editor

Western’s theatre department has put on a number of engaging and fun productions throughout the year and their latest is right around the corner.

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing,” originally written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, is the latest play that Western’s theatre department has been hard at work preparing for. The play includes 18 Western students acting and guest director, Jen Rowe.

Rowe is a director/actor based out of Portland, Oregon who founded The Quick and Dirty Art Project in 2010, where she produced and directed seven shows. Rowe also directed Idris Goodwin’s “How We Got On” at the Portland Playhouse.

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” is a fable that follows triplet sisters and their struggles growing up and finding their way in life after being abandoned in the woods.

The play stars Lindsay Spear, junior Bachelor of Fine Arts acting major, as Albienne, Chynna Shurts, first-year Bachelor of Fine Arts theatre major, as Beatrix, and Natalie Doerfler, sophomore Bachelor of Fine Arts theatre major, as Carmen.

“I would describe this story as a coming of age story. It’s a story about human resiliency, a story that embraces the message that ‘new days are always the best time for starting life journeys.’ Each of these girls, everyday, they choose to adventure in a new way and it leads them after 20 years to growing up and understanding more about themselves and who they are as people,” said Rowe.

The three sisters have disparate character traits that affect how they act in the play and sends them in different directions.

“Albienne is the oldest of the triplets, if that can mean anything. She likes to act like it. She’s very much a leader and she likes to lead people, people are drawn to her strong personality,” said Spear.

“Beatrix is a child of the sun, she’s an adventure, always climbing trees and exploring the world. She’s not afraid to explore the world, she really wants to get out there and see what there is,” added Shurts.

“Carmen is very much an introvert, while her two other sisters are extroverts. She likes to care for other people. She’s happy where she is. She has, what we reference in this show as a backpack called the Weight of the World, which she carries on her shoulders. It’s not something that she feels obligated to do, it’s something she enjoys to do because she just likes seeing the world as how it is,” said Doerfler.

The play is unlike other plays in that it doesn’t have a set, it’s an open, narrative fable, so Rowe had to get creative with directing.

“My experience directing this play has been one of trying to bring as many exciting elements together and find marriages between them. I’m given the opportunity to create a completely original, novel way of telling a story through theatre,” said Rowe.

“I have decided to have 18 people in this cast, the largest cast I’ve ever had has been nine, so I doubled it. I’ve decided to have a shadow play, I’ve decided to bring in music and instruments that are not in the script. I have decided to allow the spectacle of storytelling to tell from the bodies on stage and the physicality of our actors rather than trying to represent that with set pieces.”

Working on “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” hasn’t been without fun for everyone involved. All through rehearsals, the cast and crew have been having a great time working on the play.

“One of the things that I’ve been trying to hammer in is the idea of ‘play’ in our play. Although we’re trying to tell a story that is a fable, and the reason we call it a fable is because it deals with a very heavy, realistic and grounded situation, these girls are abandoned in the wood and set off to conquer the woods on their own terms,” said Rowe. “Finding the balance between the reality of their story and the ‘play’ of getting to tell this kind of story through magical realism was one of my big goals, so for most of rehearsals we’d play a game.”

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” runs from May 31 to June 3 in Rice Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. and June 1-2 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14 or $8 with a Western student I.D.

“Allow yourself to enjoy this show as much as we enjoyed creating this show,” said Doerfler.

Contact the author at journalentertainment@wou.edu