Students construct 'Trestle' in intimate lab theatre

actors on tracksThe SUNY Oswego student honors production “The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek,” opening Nov. 14 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre, will make use of the place’s limited space but increased intimacy.

The cozy lab theatre provides both a challenge and an opportunity for this production, director Lucaya Luckey-Bethany said.

“I’m very glad we have the lab theatre,” the director said. “This is a show that needs intimacy in order to pull it off. You’re going to be able to see these characters from all sides, all angles, emotionally and physically. You’re going to have a strong connection with what’s going on because it’s only a few feet from your face.”

Luckey-Bethany said she has noticed that plays in the lab theatre often get better and more
involved crowd reactions, and she hopes to continue that trend. She added that scenes have no more than three characters, rely heavily on interaction and can be intense.

Under the leadership of student scenic designer Nick Miller, the trestle of the title is coming together in the lab theatre. A life-size trestle is too big for that space, so audiences will only see parts of it, with pieces running from the ceiling to the floor and ladder crosspieces meant to represent the large railroad bridge.

“If you see something, it’s harder to imagine it,” Luckey-Bethany said. So audiences are left to envision how large the trestle is as well as to incorporate the folklore surrounding the infamous Kentucky structure, including its mythical monster.

“Apparently, it’s a really creepy, unsettling place,” Luckey-Bethany said. “When Naomi Wallace wrote this play, she included some of the history of the place.”

Miller began developing models in the summer while theatre faculty member Johan Godwaldt—who serves as technical and lighting director for the production—visited the actual trestle while on vacation.

“Oddly enough, without any really deep research, we learned Nick was already creating the trestle itself fairly accurately in look and theme and color,” Lucaya-Bethany said.

The set incorporates only three locations—the trestle, the jail and Dalton’s house—without major changeovers. “The audience has to realize the three locations are separate and believe it,” she said.

The scenery, like the play, incorporates a surrealistic element in its depiction of a small town during the Depression. “I keep calling it Samuel Beckett meets Thornton Wilder,” Lucaya-Bethany said. She asked Miller to look especially at Salvador Dali imagery, but added: “In no way does that mean ‘Trestle’ is going to have melting clocks.”

“The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” will preview at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, with all seats $5.

The production will have 8 p.m. curtains Nov. 14 to 17, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee Nov. 18. The show is recommended for those 13 years of age or older.

Tickets cost $12 ($10 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). For information or reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or

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PHOTO CAPTION: ‘Trestle’ tale—“The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek,” an uncompromising coming-of-age tale centering on Dalton (Mike Racioppa, center) and Pace (Allison Kleber, second from left) is this year’s SUNY Oswego student honors theatre production. The rest of the cast includes, from left, Dalton’s parents, Dray (Ryan Santiago) and Gin (Kim Saunders), and Chas the jailor (Nate Roy).

(Posted: Oct 24, 2007)