University of Nebraska Theatre opens spring season with 'This Random World'

Kate Schini (left) and Becca Hess are in "This Random World," which opens March 2. Photo by Doug Smith.
Kate Schini (left) and Becca Hess are in "This Random World," which opens March 2. Photo by Doug Smith.

University of Nebraska Theatre opens spring season with 'This Random World'

calendar icon17 Feb 2017    

Lincoln, Neb.--Theatre at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln opens its spring semester season with a new play by Steven Dietz. "This Random World," directed by Professor Paul Steger, is a heart-breaking comedy of missed connections asking the question, “How often do we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing?”

Performances are March 2-4 and 7-11 at 7:30 p.m. and March 12 at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, first floor, Temple Building, 12th & R streets.

Admission purchased in advance is recommended due to limited seating. Seating is general admission and in the round. The play is performed without intermission. Tickets may be purchased through the Lied Center Ticket Office, 301 North 12th street Monday through Friday 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM or on-line at Admission is $18, $16 faculty/staff & senior citizens, $12 students with ID.

Steger found the play while attending the Humana Festival for New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky. The script has yet to be published. It is scheduled to be published just about the time of the University’s performances.  Steger said, “The playwright, Steven Dietz, was kind enough to give us permission to produce the play at the Johnny Carson School.”

Steger describes the play as “quirky, warm, inviting, mysterious and evocative.” The play asks “What if everything is an accident?” and “What if the life beside our life was our choice? How different would it be?” according to Steger. He continues, “Steven Dietz subtitles the play ‘The Myth of Serendipity:’ luck that takes the form of finding valuable, pleasant or agreeable things not sought for.” Particularly in these days of mobile phones and other electronic devices, “more often in life, we so lose ourselves in what we’re doing that we don’t even acknowledge those around us.”

Steger explains, “Rain is a consistent part of the environment of the play. The idea that rain brings renewal…another thought we’ve been working on throughout the design process is how a single drop of water creates a ripple, a ring, and that each ring is independent from the next until it reaches the edge of the container. Each of the characters are like these ripples, one ring beside the other, only finding a deeper connection to the other characters at the ‘edge’ of their lives.”

Jorden Charley-Whatley plays Tim Ward, a writer and freelance web developer. His sister Beth Ward, played by Becca Hess, is the older of the two and is the ‘take care of business’ type who after her father died and her mother began to age had to step up and take responsibility. Tim’s high school girlfriend Claire, played by Candace Nelson, struggles with letting people into her life and describes herself as “a puzzle that’s just trying to find her missing piece.”

Michelle Ingle plays Bernadette, a registered nurse who provided home health care and personal assistance to Elizabeth McHenry Ward, affectionately known as ‘Scottie.’ Kate Schini plays Rhonda, Bernadette’s younger sister who works at Arbor View Memory Gardens, a funeral home. Hunter Mruz rounds out the undergraduate cast as Gary who is carefree and a bit of a player.

Undergraduate Trey Martinez is the assistant director.

Professor Virginia Smith plays Elizabeth McHenry Ward, or ‘Scottie.’ Scottie is Beth and Tim’s mother who, although private is sassy, feisty and intelligent. Professor Smith is a member of two professional actor’s unions: Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. She has done numerous commercials, industrial films, and several feature films, including Home Alone, Teachers, The Naked Face and Almost Normal. Since becoming a part of the Johnny Carson School faculty, she has performed Vivian Bearing in Wit at the Human Race Theatre in Dayton, Ohio and for the Nebraska Rep; as well as Karen in Dinner with Friends, Flora in Humble Boy, Zina in Act a Lady, all for the Nebraska Rep; Mommy in Dinnertime and Family Lessons for the Carson School; and Gertrude in Hamlet for the Haymarket Theatre. Other acting credits include work at American Players Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, The Body Politic Theatre, The Court Theatre, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Wisdom Bridge, and Equity Library Theatre in Chicago. Professor Smith is the Head of the undergraduate Directing/Management emphasis and the graduate Directing for Stage and Screen program. She was Artistic Director for Nebraska Repertory Theatre for ten seasons (2005 – 2014).

Professor Steger has assembled a production team made up entirely of women:

LISA HALDEMAN, properties, graduate student
SHANNON HANSON, stage manager, undergraduate student
DANI MADER, technical director, undergraduate student
JAIME MANCUSO, lighting, graduate student
HEATHER STRIEBEL, costumes, graduate student
JESSICA THOMPSON, lighting, graduate student