CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – This month, ACT (a community theatre), is offering a unique theatre experience.
Directed by Terry Pratt, “The Dining Room” will take audience members on a journey through various decades of the 20th century and give them glimpses of upper-middle-class, North American WASP family life, as depicted in short scenes that share a common setting: a dining room.
Performances will be at the Carrefour Theatre, 2 Acadian Dr., Charlottetown, tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
A.R. Gurney’s play presents a perspective on a vanishing or perhaps now completely vanished social class. While privileged and pretentious, it is one that is also loyal and loving, placing great value on the rituals of eating and talking as a family and holding family councils.
The audience will be welcomed into that intimate setting and will witness the intricacies of life in various eras throughout the 20th century.
Another element about the play is the fact that six actors will play 55 characters – that’s eight to 10 characters per actor. This poses both a challenge for the actors and a treat for audience members, as they watch familiar faces transform from scene to scene.
For ACT newcomer Suzanne Wilkie, one such challenge is remembering that nothing we see is arbitrary and that each scene is “the most important, the most vibrant” in any given character’s life.
“Otherwise,” she says, “why would we be showing this snapshot?”
Every scene treats the audience to pivotal, intimate moments ordinarily hidden from view.
Earlier this month, ACT also staged the play in individual homes in the style of “chamber” theatre, which became an immersive experience for those in attendance. Those performances were sold out.