It used to be that an unhappy couple would go to Reno for their divorce. In February, another unhappy couple—and a lot of their friends—are trying to get to Reno, for a much happier reason. But they need help.
Two benefit performances of Christopher Durang’s The Marriage of Bette and Boo will try to help this HSU student production take advantage of a rare opportunity: it was selected by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival to compete in the regional finals. The ultimate prize is playing the Kennedy Center stage in Washington during the national festival.
“We’re one of only four productions chosen in our 8-state region,” said director and HSU Theatre, Film and Dance professor Jody Sekas. “This is the first time since 1997 that an HSU production has been selected. So this is not only an honor, but we have a chance to represent Humboldt County to the western region, and maybe the whole country. ”
But the competition is in Nevada, and the production must raise money to get there. So local audiences will get two more opportunities to see The Marriage of Bette and Boo, on Tuesday, February 9 and Thursday, February 11.
Even those who saw the play in the Gist Hall Theatre in December will be viewing something new. “The theatre at the University of Nevada-Reno is a completely different layout than Gist,” Sekas said. “According to the festival rules, we will have 12 hours once we get there to set up our entire production—the set, the lights, everything—and also rehearse the show. So we’ve had to change quite a bit, and that’s what audiences will see at the two shows in Van Duzer.”
The Marriage of Bette and Boo is a dark family comedy by the author of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. The story follows a young couple and their families through marriage and divorce.
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is an organization of some 600 colleges and universities, with some 18,000 student participants. As a member, the HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance invites adjudicators from the Festival to its productions. The adjudicators are usually faculty members at other colleges in the region, which includes all or part of eight western states.
This year, The Marriage of Bette and Boo was one of four selected productions out of 32 entries in the region. At the competition in Reno—just a few days after the benefits at the Van Duzer--one of these four will be chosen to represent the region at the national festival in Washington in April.
In addition to the production as a whole, several individuals from it were nominated for awards, and will compete in their areas at the regional festival. They include actors Lanelle Chavez (who plays Bette), Kyle Ryan (who plays Matt, her son) and Brittany Williams (who plays her mother-in-law.)
Ali Beltramo and Genneveve Hood were selected for their lighting and scenic design work. Meritorious Achievement awards were given to Henry Echeverria (Prop Master), Brian Pike (Stage Manager), and Gabriel Holman (Assistant Director).
They will be among the estimated 800 to 1200 students attending the regional festival, if sufficient funds are raised. Humboldt State University will host the regional festival next year.
The two benefit performances on February 9 and February 11 will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $15. Individuals and businesses wishing to donate additionally or directly can also contact Suzan Logwood in the Theatre, Film and Dance department at 826-5496.
Media: ArtWaves KHSU, Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, North Coast Journal, Lumberjack, Tri-City Weekly Northern Lights.