Production depicts plight of stranded friends


April 01, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Tonight at Western Maryland College, an audience will shiver despite the warmth of the Alumni Hall Theater. Their eyes will see an ice wall where plastic garment bags hang from a scaffold.

And if the cast and crew of "K2" accomplish their goal, 20 feet above the theater floor will seem a thousand times as high.

"The actors have to do everything," said Steve Miller, a professional costume designer and adjunct teacher who is directing the drama about two friends stranded on the world's second-highest mountain peak. "They have to act as if it is cold. They're supposed to be about 27,000 feet up."

"K2" is a two-character play that depicts the struggles of friends stranded on the mountain in North Kashmir. When a fall leaves one severely injured, both find a deeper understanding of their friendship.

"It's really raw emotions, it's not a cartoon. It's real," said Mr. Miller. "It is the type of things they [actors] should learn to deal with."

The set is as innovative and impressive as the actors' undertaking, considering the play's virtually nonexistent budget. "K2" is a "Works in Progress" production not funded by the theater department.

The mountain, a scaffold draped with dozens of plastic garment bags, is the idea of Ira Domser, associate professor of theater arts. It was created from scaffolding borrowed from the school and rented by a theater-design class.

Stage manager Troy Hornung and his crew use colored lights to create the shimmer of the ice wall, which more than once acts as the villain in this dark drama about the human spirit.

"The emphasis of the play is on the relationship of the two men and how they deal with their situation," said Mr. Hornung, a junior theater and religious studies major. "We didn't need the technical aspects taking away from what the actors are doing."

Most of the action takes place on a platform near the center of the "mountain." The audience will sit in the balcony to watch the performance from a perspective similar to the actors'.

"I like to drop my audiences right in the middle of the play," said Mr. Miller. "I want them to feel a part of the action."

John P. Barry portrays Harold, the married father injured in a fall on the ice wall. R. Reid Wrasse plays Taylor, his less-stable friend, a district attorney who must come to grips with fear to survive.

"It's a very serious play, not like the movie that was just out," Mr. Miller said of last year's release, based loosely on Patrick Meyers' script. "I did not see it, but I hear it wasn't like the play. It didn't end the same way, either."

Although the play's ending is somewhat disturbing, Mr. Miller said, there will be no curtain calls to reassure the audience that it was all make-believe.

The three-performance run begins tonight and continues through Saturday. Tickets cost $5 for the public and $3 for senior citizens and students with student identification.

For tickets, call the theater department, 857-2599 or 876-2055, weekdays or purchase them at the Alumni Hall box office, which will open a half-hour before each evening's performance.

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