Triple casting underscores themes in 'Infinity's House'

imageFor the theatre season opener “Infinity’s House,” a novel triple casting for one role will emphasize particular themes in the modern drama that will open Oct. 8, director Paul Savas said.

For the role of the Indian shaman, who haunts the action in the play, Savas cast three student actors—Steven Screws, Kristine Whalen and Steve White. Savas said the triple casting comes because he saw this role perform a similar function to the chorus in ancient Greek drama.

“The similarity is in the play’s structure as well as the form of the Indian’s lines,” said Savas, a member of the SUNY Oswego theatre faculty. “The Greek chorus, as well as the Indian, speaks in a voice that is more elevated, more heightened than the rest of the play. It is as real, but more obviously poetic.”

The character of the Native American shaman, like the Greek chorus, serves as a kind of “moderator” connecting the play’s action to the audience as well as moving that action along, Savas added. “The Indian asks to be given something, and what is given is a vision that is the culmination of the scenes in the play,” Savas explained.

The character also ties in with the college’s exploration of Native American issues this year, prompted by the Oswego Reading Initiative selection of Sherman Alexie’s short-story collection “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” for campus-wide reading.

In tandem with Alexie’s book, which chronicles the lives of characters struggling on a Spokane Indian reservation, Native American themes have been woven into musical and artistic presentations, a film festival, course syllabi and other special events at SUNY Oswego.

Having three actors in a role that could be performed by one helps emphasizes some collateral themes in the play, Savas said.

“One of the themes of this play is what is lost or sacrificed in pursuit of technology, more simply in the pursuit of one’s own curiosity,” Savas said. “Part of the Indian’s character is that his culture had been devastated by the expansion, progress, of the West. The role has a lot of depth, and being from a devastated culture is one of the facets. . . . I wanted to speak to that facet by casting three different ‘kinds’ of people who share that facet in some way.”

The ominous nature of advancing technology can particularly be seen in a subplot where famed atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his colleagues discuss morality and science on the eve of the first test of the atom bomb in the New Mexico desert.

A preview performance of “Infinity’s House” will be at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, with all seats priced at $5.

The show’s main run will feature 8 p.m. performances Oct. 8, 9, 15 and 16, with a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee Oct. 17. Tickets for these shows cost $10, $9 for seniors and students and $7 for SUNY Oswego students. 

For reservations, contact Tyler Hall box office at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 312-2141.

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CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097

PHOTO CAPTION: Across ‘Infinity’—SUNY Oswego’s theatre season opens with the modern drama “Infinity’s House,” opening Oct. 8 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. Among the characters from different time periods whose lives intersect in the New Mexico desert are, from left, Michael Climek as famed atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, Brian Heyman as Grat and Samantha Mason as Annie. For information or reservations, contact the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

(Posted: Sep 28, 2004)