TheatreUNI beams “The Aliens”

“The Aliens” by contemporary playwright Annie Baker is being performed by TheatreUNI today through Oct. 22, and again from Thursday, Oct. 26 through Oct. 29 in the Bertha Martin Theater located in Strayer-Wood Theater.

SYDNEY HAUER, Executive Editor | [email protected]

TheatreUNI will be performing “The Aliens” by contemporary playwright Annie Baker on Thursday, Oct. 19 through Oct. 22, and again from Thursday, Oct. 26 through Oct. 29 in the Bertha Martin Theatre located in the Strayer-Wood Theatre building.

The play, which takes place entirely in an alleyway behind a coffee shop in small town Vermont, follows two young men and a high school student who develop a unique friendship.

“The story is really about Evan, the character who works at the coffee shop and kind of comes into the world of K.J. and Jasper,” said Jake Barnwell, stage manager and assistant director of the production.

Barnwell is also a senior theater production and management major.

“It’s really about a coming of age for him and learning really hard life lessons,” Barnwell said about the character of Evan.

“We’re doing the play in a style called hyperrealism, which is essentially a style where you want the audience to walk in and be taken aback by how realistic everything is,” Barnwell said.

He explained that this effect will be furthered by different lighting techniques to emulate day and night, as well as capture city sounds.

“Instead of just sitting in a silent theater, and knowing you’re in a theater, we bring in the atmospheric sounds from outside,” Barnwell explained. “It’s kind of nice because it’s wholly immersive.”

Barnwell said he thinks the story has a lot of relevance because of the current drug epidemic in America. Both Barnwell and Lange believe that students may relate to the characters.

“It really faces a lot of issues that student-aged people go through,” Barnwell said. “He comes into his own like the journey a lot of us go through, and so I think a lot of people can sympathize with it.”

“We are anxious to produce work by female playwrights […] and it’s a piece that really depends on strong acting,” said Eric Lange, the head of the theater department. “The story comes out in their conversations. It’s super dialogue based. [It’s] a good experience for our actors. Those two reasons are […] why we chose the piece.”

Sam Wiegers plays the role of K.J. in the production. He believes that students should attend theater regardless of what show it is. He is a fifth year senior theater major graduating in December.

“I think going to live theater broadens a student’s mind and opens them up to different types of thinking,” Wiegers said. “Even if they don’t necessarily enjoy it, […] they’re becoming more well-rounded.”

“We always hope people will go away thinking about what they’ve seen,” Lange said. “It’s always our goal that we don’t just entertain, but that we give people something to think about.”

Tickets to TheatreUNI productions are free to students and are not counted against their student tickets for Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) events.