Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

Theater Evokes Reflection

In Students, Theater on October 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Performance Notes on The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek

by Drew Scott, adjunct professor of Theater

“She comes through at 7:10 sometimes 7:12…She’s never exact; you can’t trust her. That’s what I like…She’s pulling eight cars at seventy tons each at eighty-five…the engine herself’s one hundred and fifty-three tons. And not cotton, kid. Just cold, lip-smackin’ steel. Imagine a kiss like that. Just imagine it.”

That’s knife-wielding seventeen year old Pace Creagan, as unstoppable as the powerful freight train she is describing, challenging shy fifteen year old Dalton Chance to play chicken with the train on the trestle above Pope Lick Creek. A trestle with no safety sides, only a one hundred foot drop to the dry creek bed below. “So what do you do if you know you can’t make it across?” asks the frightened Dalton. “You make the cross. That’s all there is to it” replies Pace matter-of-factly. And so begins the intense, enigmatic relationship at the heart of Naomi Wallace’s gripping and poetic play The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek. A relationship that builds to a shattering and unexpected climax that forever changes Dalton, Dray, his father, and Gin, his mother.

Set in the midst of the Great Depression in a dying town “somewhere in the United States,” The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek is a psychological mystery and haunting coming-of-age story that fluidly moves between the past and present to develop layers of meaning and raise thought-provoking questions about gender, identity, community, personal responsibility, and the necessity of change. This extremely challenging play was the first production of the season for Theater for Community and was performed October 4 through October 8 in the Clarice L. Buckman Theater on the Mount Carmel campus. It was directed by adjunct faculty member Robert Bresnick with a set design by Associate Professor of Theater Tricia Thelen. The cast was comprised entirely of students with sophomores Sara Detrik as Pace Creagan and Aleczander Farquharson as Dalton Chase. Others in the cast included junior Michael Bobenhausen as Dray Chance; senior Kasey Quinlan as Gin Chance; and senior Noah Golden of Guilford.

“We’re here. We’re making a statement” said Michael Bobenhausen when asked why people came to see the show. And, indeed, during every performance the audience was genuinely engaged. The Quinnipiac Chronicle stated the show “captivated its audience” and called attention specifically to the quality of the actors’ performances and the “feelings of sadness” they evoked in the audience. The guiding principle of the Theater for Community program is the conviction that theater can be a tool to foster student engagement with the local, national and global community. To that end, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek was an excellent example of how a play can introduce students to diverse social issues and topics outside of their everyday experiences and allow them explore the topic from a different perspective. As sophomore Dana Umble said “After seeing it kind of made me wanna go and reflect and think of what I just saw.”

Theater for Community will present three more productions this season. Coming next month playing November 8 through 11 will be the award winning Irish drama Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan, a heart-wrenching and controversial play about a group of young women confined in one of the infamous Magdalene laundries for the “sin” of being pregnant and unmarried.

In February, Theater for Community will present the premiere of Lily Hare, a new play by faculty member and alumnus Kevin Daly.

And, the season will close with a musical production which is still to be chosen. Several exciting titles are under consideration and whichever is selected is certain to carry on the program’s commitment to engaging the university community in thought-provoking, entertaining theater presented with professional quality and artistic integrity.

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