A different kind of play will explore the randomness of death while randomly selecting the roles the actors themselves play for each performance. An exhibit at the Danville Business Alliance will give people a backstage look at how plays are produced.
“Everybody,” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, will be performed Feb. 26 through March 1 at the Alvina Krause Theatre in Bloomsburg. In the meantime, an exhibit titled “The Theatrical World of ‘Everybody’” will run now through March 20 at the Danville Business Alliance at 620 Mill Street.
A reception at the DBA tonight, January 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. will provide an opportunity to see the exhibit and speak with participating artists and members of the cast of “Everybody.” Light refreshments will be served.
“The reception is open to the public,” said David A. Miller, director of the show, “and they will have a chance to talk with members of the cast and the designers and the director.”
The exhibit will feature the work of costume designer Chris Thorne, lighting design of Fred Uebele, properties design by Ethan Krupp and scenic design by David A. Miller. Danville visual artist Brock Dent will also share a piece inspired by the play.
Guests are welcome to view the exhibit anytime during DBA office hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s rare that audiences get a backstage look at the design process for a theatre production before opening night,” Miller said of tonight’s reception.
“Everybody” is a one-of-a-kind show in many ways.
“For one, it’s an incredibly unique theatrical experience: At the start of the play, in full view of the audience, there is an on-stage lottery which determines which roles five of the actors will play,” Miller said. “This incredible ensemble of performers has pretty much memorized the entire script.”
“It’s actually pretty crazy. Unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” said Kali Morgia, a junior at Bloomsburg University who plays one of the five “Somebodies.”
According to a press release, the audience travels with the character Everybody as they journey through life’s greatest mystery — the meaning of living. This modern take on the fifteenth-century morality play “Everyman,” which features characters such as Love, Death, and Friendship, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2018.
Morgia said Miller is preparing the cast by having them do a lottery twice in every rehearsal, constantly changing the roles they perform.
“There are 120 different possible casting combinations that might happen on any given performance,” Miller said, “so audiences might want to see the show more than once.”
Why even create a play where actors’ roles are randomly chosen before each performance?
“It very much relates to the show,” Morgia said. “It symbolizes the whole randomness of life and death. You never know what cards you’ll be dealt in life.”
Miller noted that in this version of the medieval play, archetypal characters are given a contemporary spin.
“‘God,’ who is always referred to with air quotes, is just as omnipotent as ever, but also quite sensitive to his creations laughing at them and otherwise being unkind,” Miller said. “Death fears no man, but is also really bent out of shape by the fact that they are just an assistant to ‘God’ and never get enough information from ‘God’ to properly do their job.”
The performance space includes the house of the theater, where the audience sits, Miller said, adding that to say more would give some of the show’s secrets away.
“The play is smart, funny, and theatrical,” he said, “and, as one of the characters says, this play may be about death but it really teaches us more about life.”
“I honestly think this is one of the most exciting shows we’ve ever done,” Morgia said. “Our characters are very audience involved.”
This play has mature language and subject matter.