The age-old questions of “What is the truth and who do you believe?” are at the center of LaGrange College Theatre Arts’ production of “Shadow Hour,” which opens tonight and runs through April 27 at Price Theater.
Written by Ralph Tropf, the play is a courtroom drama that centers around a young female staffer in Washington, D.C., who accuses a prominent senator of sexual assault. Through a series of flashbacks, the incident is seen from both his and her standpoints. The jury has to find the truth, but things become difficult when each juror has a different interpretation of what actually happened.
Director Tracy Clahan Riggs said it is a story that has played out many times in American politics.
“I printed out a list of Washington sex scandals since the 1970s, and it was a very long list,” she said. “It was interesting to see who survived the scandal – Bill Clinton, Barney Frank and several others – and who didn’t – Anthony Weiner, for example. The play probably most resembles the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill case (in which law professor Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Thomas of sexual harassment).”
The cast includes 19 actors, and Riggs said the large company has offered its own set of challenges.
“There are 12 people in the jury room at all times, and they all are contributing to the conversation. It was hard at first for the actors to figure out where to focus, who is talking and who they needed to respond to. It is much more difficult to be in a large scene like that because you end up spending a lot of time listening, and that isn’t easy.
“I tell all actors that one of the hardest things to do on stage is to listen. You may think you aren’t doing anything, but being actively engaged with what is happening on stage is so very important.”
Meagan Cascone, a freshman Theatre Arts major, plays one of the jurors. She said she’s learned a valuable lesson doing the show.
“There is so much more that goes into being a cast member than just being a good actor on stage,” she said. “Even though I don’t have as many lines as some other people, I have to put in just as much focus, energy and effort as everyone else to make the show run smoothly. Without good chemistry onstage and encouragement and support behind the scenes, the final product would end up being a flop.”
Meagan said she’s been so appreciative of the learning atmosphere in the department.
“Freshmen are treated more like new members in the company, and we are welcomed in with open arms. We are all on a level playing field, and everyone works equally as hard to do their part.”
She said the play demonstrates how a person’s perspective of something can change the final outcome of that situation.
“‘Shadow Hour’ illustrates how word choice and language can be interpreted and used to manipulate issues, causing even more problems or conflicts.”
For four cast members, the production experience has been meaningful on an entirely different level.
“Connor Lynch, Blake Shuler, Stacia Myers and Kevin Metasavage are all students in Nate Tomsheck’s lighting design class, and they designed the lighting for the show,” Riggs said. “They have a very interesting perspective because they are also actors in the play. They’ve done a remarkable job.”
When all is said and done, Riggs said “Shadow Hour” is all about perception.
“It asks people to think about who they believe,” she said. “One of the characters in the show even says, ‘I think they both believe they are telling the truth. Who do you believe more? ’ ”
“Shadow Hour” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tonight through April 26, and at 2:30 p.m. April 27 at Price Theater. Tickets are $7 for non-LC students and senior citizens, and $10 for adults. The show contains adult themes and language, and is recommended for mature audiences. For tickets, email the box office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (706) 880-8080.