Back in black
If lighting of Eudora High School's latest play production doesn't make sense it's not because the tech crew isn't doing it's job.
"Black Comedy," which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the high school auditorium, takes place during a blackout. In order to get that fact across to the audience, the stage lights are off when Brindsley Miller's apartment still has electricity. When a fuse blows, the stage lights come on, allowing the audience to see Brindsley and his fiancee, Carol, stumble around the set in the "dark" as the couple prepare to entertain Carol's stern military father (Michael Paxton) and a hearing-impaired art buyer looking at Brindsley's work.
"Every time a match strikes, the lights go down and then come on," said tech crew member Aaron Neis. "We're controlling the darkness instead of the light."
Most of the play has the characters stumbling around in the dark, Paxton said.
"Hopefully (the audience) will realize that, or they'll think we're crazy."
To play the colonel, Paxton said he had to talk loud and act mean, but preparing to stumble around in the dark required a different type of preparation.
"We wore blindfolds for a while so we could get used to it," he said.
A few unexpected guests pop up, too, such as Brindsley's former flame and a clean-living upstairs neighbor, who's afraid of the dark. A case of mistaken beverage identity means Mary Johnson, who plays Miss Furnival, has to stumble around, too, but not just because it's dark.
"I think I'm drinking soda, but I'm not," Johnson said. "I get absolutely wasted."
Johnson said she thought of her character as "the weird old lady in the story," which was a bit of a stretch for a teenage actor.
"I say all this stuff about the 'old days,'" she said. "I was hoping I wasn't going to be this old, but it will be funny."
In order to impress his guests, Brindsley unofficially borrows an antique collector neighbor's furniture to spruce up his artist's abode. Because Brindsley hopes to impress the art dealer with his work, bringing pieces onto the set is an important part of staging the play. Along with some help from Gary Hinman and his art classes, Neis said the crew recruited his father to create a modern-looking metal sculpture, even though his father didn't consider himself an artist.
"He's a farmer, but Mrs. (director Jeannine) Sample knew he could weld," he said.