To wrap up their 2019/20 season, the Williams Lake Studio Theatre is putting on two one-act plays entitled Body of Water and A Number with auditions scheduled first thing in February.
These short hour-long plays will be on at the WLST back-to-back and showcase tight, dynamic examples of acting and theatre as a whole. Helming them are two of the WLST’s best and brightest, longtime veterans Curt Sprickerhoff and Kathleen MacDonald.
Sprickerhoff has been involved in the theatre for the last 25 years and has done just about everything from acting to directing, lights to sound and even set design. As a director, he’s no rookie and said he’s done one about once every two to three years whenever a script comes along that he absolutely falls in love with.
MacDonald, meanwhile, is a familiar face at the WLST and has been involved with them, on and off, for about 21 years now, doing a lot of acting, some producing and stage management. This year marks her first time stepping into the director’s chair though MacDonald remarked with a laugh it wasn’t her plan to do so this year.
“It was time but I’ve been nervous about doing it for the first time and Curt found this one act that he really wanted to do, so he said if I could find a one-act we could do it together and make it an evening of two one-acts,” MacDonald said.
A one-act, according to Sprickerhoff, is generally just a short play running at around one hour, compared to a full length play with three acts that takes course over multiple hours. Each play will run from beginning to end and be broken up by an intermission, which Sprickerhoff said is the ideal way to put on one-acts.
“I know Kathy has been involved (with the WLST) and I figured she was ready to direct and just needed a little bit of a nudge to get going and I was right,” Sprickerhoff said.
Body of Water is the production Sprickerhoff chose to direct this year and is a story of a middle-aged couple who wake up in the morning with no memory of who they are or how they got there. A young woman shows up on the doorstep shortly after who may or may not help them in figuring out just who they are and what’s going on.
The story overall lends itself very well to a mystery, Sprickerhoff said, with more details about the characters being revealed to them and the audience as the play goes along. He describes it as being “quite the roller coaster ride” as the audience follows these people’s lives and gets to know them.
“It’s funny, it’s a little bit dark, it’s interesting and mysterious as heck and I’m really attracted to stories that leave you a little confused and thinking about it at the end, you have to put the work in to figure out what’s going on. This one covers all of those bases,” Sprickerhoff said.
For her directorial debut, MacDonald chose to go with A Number which is about a father and a son and their relationship. Things take a turn, however, when the son discovers he’s not the only son but is in fact amongst a number of clones.
“It’s not so much a play about cloning as it is a play that needs cloning in it but it’s about a lot more than that,” MacDonald said. “Almost everything Curt said is true about mine, it’s funny, interesting and it will have people thinking and asking questions after it’s over. For a play that’s just an hour long there’s so many twists and turns.”
Learning of the father’s involvement in the cloning process and how it impacts his relationship with his son is fascinating. MacDonald said themes of identity, nature versus nurture and the father-son dynamic are all examined in detail during this short hour.
She is particularly happy that the playwright doesn’t answer some of the questions they bring up but, instead, leaves it to the audience to figure out and think about. Every time she reads it, MacDonald said she is riveted by the content and always finds something new in the text.
MacDonald and Sprickerhoff both have found it funny how well the themes of both productions lined up, those of identity and what makes us who we are. Sprickerhoff said the fact both plays take different approaches to the same questions is great and was in no means planned by either director.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4 and Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Kornack and Hamm’s Pharmacy, Sprickerhoff and MacDonald will be hosting auditions for their plays. All are welcome to attend whether they are theatre novices or veteran thespians.
MacDonald is looking for two actors to play the father and the cloned son, however, she said she’s open to gender-bending the roles if the right actresses come along. She doesn’t like to place age limits on actors, so she said she’d like the son to look in his 20s to 30s while the father should look closer to late 40s to mid-60s. Whichever actor who plays the son will play three different versions of him for the three different clones in the story
“It’s going to be a rich, challenging, meaty role for two actors. I think there are a few people out there in town who would love to sink their teeth into something really good,” MacDonald said.
For his own production, Sprickerhoff is looking for a middle-aged couple over the age of 40, roughly, and a younger woman who looks to be under 40. Both his play and MacDonald’s play have what he would call “actor’s roles” the kind that are fun, interesting and smart roles an actor can really have fun with.
Even if you haven’t acted before, Sprickerhoff said these are roles anyone can have a lot of fun with, a sentiment MacDonald agrees with. They encourage anyone and everyone to come out for auditions and give these roles a try.
“Come out you auditions, enjoy yourselves and have fun,” Sprickerhoff said.
The plays themselves, meanwhile, go up on May. 6 to 9 and May 13 to 16, Sprickerhoff said, with MacDonald’s play going to be used as a festival entry at the end of May with a further performance possible at provincials in July.