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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Disturbed kids, imaginary friends

    If you want to know how disturbed a child is, just ask their imaginary friend. The play “Mr. Marmalade”, presented by the School of Theatre, Film and Television Studio Series, tests this statement, but also gives a glimpse at the questions behind it.

    Written by Noah Haidle and directed by UA adjunct professor Matt Bowdren, “Mr. Marmalade” will run this weekend only in the Harold Dixon Directing Studio, which is part of the UA Drama building in the Fine Arts complex on campus.

    The play creates a dark comedy out of some very heavy themes that mainly deal with emotionally disturbed children growing up in the modern world.

    The play’s protagonist, 4-year-old Lucy, sees some very grown-up things through the mind of Mr. Marmalade, her wild and drug-addicted imaginary friend. If this is what is happening in her imagination, what could possibly be happening in Lucy’s real world?

    “Left alone, the imagination fills the gaps of what we’re not given,” Bowdren said. “[Lucy] is in a really adult world, and her mind fills in these gaps and creates worlds that are sometimes a little alarming.”

    Bowdren said an interesting part of the script is that Lucy isn’t neglected. She’s simply left to her own devices, and this is a nuance that is meaningful in her chaotic world ruled by adults.

    According to Lisa Pierce, director of marketing and development for the School of Theatre, Film and Television, the Studio Series is a chance for theater students to work in a school production. The plays are picked by a committee of students and faculty according to what is poignant, relevant and likely to be well-received by the students and audience.

    “It’s good hands-on study for [the students] — doing some character work, exploring a story, the way the author interprets a story and their interpretation,” Pierce said. “It’s always fun for the students and the audience. It’s such an intimate theatre with 66 seats. People get really engrossed, and they get a little bit spoiled.”

    According to Bowdren, intimacy is the last great way for theater to find a special niche in a largely screen-driven field. When that intimacy is coupled with the use of the Bare Essential method, the Studio Series becomes a unique opportunity that should be experienced.

    With the Bare Essential method of production, the actors tell the story without the use of elaborate props and set designs. The actors aim to share the intellectual side of the production, according to Pierce. They get a chance to delve deeper into the characters, since they are the sole medium for the production, and it offers the audience members a richer experience since they are asked to imagine parts of the story.

    “We talk a lot about suspension of disbelief and what is it,” Bowdren said. “What is it you’re willing to let go of and willing to accept and just the willingness you have to decide to have as an audience member, but once you have it, you can really be taken to somewhere pretty special.”


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