Baylor Theatre presents emotional new play, ‘This Random World’

The Baylor Theater cast is performing "This Random World" Nov. 7-12. William Barksdale | Multimedia Journalist

By Cassidy Pate | Reporter

Rain falling on stage is just one of the many surprises the audience can expect in the Baylor theater department’s upcoming production of Steven Dietz’s contemporary play, “This Random World.”

The play runs from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m., with two shows Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. in Mabee Theatre.

“This Random World is a play about a bunch of people who are kind of one degree of separation apart from each other and they don’t realize this as they’re speaking to each other,” Houston senior Noah Alferder said.

With only two people on stage at a time, Alferder said the characters —a brother, a sister, a mother, the mother’s aide, the aide’s sister, along with a boyfriend of the sister and a girlfriend of the brother — intermingle and meet at different times throughout the play without realizing who they’re talking to.

Although there is not an obvious “ah-ha” moment for the characters, Alferder said they do discover how they are all connected.

Alferder said these duet scenes made it possible for the director to divide rehearsal time into two hours instead of everyone coming for the usual four. This held true until the last few days, when the full show was rehearsed.

Alferder added that a unique characteristic of this play is the outcome depends on how you view it; it could be hopeful or melancholy, but he thinks the play is a combination of both.

“It takes place in different locations throughout the world, but each set is only determined by one prop a piece … a lot of the world is created by the actors themselves and the lighting and sound, but it’s not a big, elaborate set,” Alferder said.

“This Random World” is set in Mabee Theatre, which contains a thrust, or extended, stage and contrasts the standard proscenium, or framed, stage.

“The thrust stage is very intimate; it really gives a unique experience as a theater-goer,” Alferder said. “You’re very close to the performers, you see lots of minute details that you may not see on a proscenium stage.”

Dr. Stan Denman, professor of theater, chairman of the department of theatre arts and director of “This Random World,” said the purpose of this stage is to draw the audience into the performance of the quiet, intimate and dialogue driven play.

Denman attended the world premiere of “This Random World” at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky., last year and became instantly inspired to direct it at Baylor.

Getting the script came with complications because the play is new and not yet published, so Denman contacted the author, agent and publisher to attain a manuscript copy.

“There’s just something about it that resonated with me, something about surrendering to the unknown,” Denman said. “All of the answers aren’t black and white, and sometimes you just have to step out on stage.”

Casting for the play happened at the beginning of October in conjunction with auditions for the next play, “Anna Karenina.” Because their schedules overlap, none of the cast could be in both productions.

Alderfer said the audition process consisted of two contrasting monologues, each about one minute long. The students went into one of Baylor’s theaters one by one, where the directors and faculty watched them perform.

Callbacks consisted of reading monologues from the play in which they were called.

Denman added that “This Random World” is unpredictable and about how we all try to change the pattern of our lives and charge the constellations.

“Sometimes you have to unlearn the constellations in order to see the stars,” writer of “This Random World” Steven Dietz said.

For additional show, time and ticket information, click here.

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