Thought-provoking Shows “Pullman, WA” and “Church” to Play at Sharp Theater

The next Ramapo production to hit the Sharp Theater is “Pullman, WA” and “Church” by playwright Young Jean Lee. The curtain goes up on these two one-act plays on April 12, 13, 14, 18, 19 and 20.

 The production is directed by Professor Peter Campbell and stars a number of Ramapo students. “Pullman, WA” features freshman Amanda Glick, sophomore Samantha Simone and senior John Henry. The cast of “Church” includes senior Vanessa Rappa, junior Caroline Harvey, junior Dan Kropa and freshman Katrina Biss. “Pullman, WA” and “Church” are two different plays that each occupy one act of the two-act show. As for the plot, even the cast isn’t sure what the show is about.

 “It’s the kind of thing where the more I understand it, the more it confuses me. Which I think is kind of a nice thing,” Kropa said.

 What can be explained is that each act has its own specific plot. “Pullman, WA” takes on the characteristics of a self-help talk.

 “There are three different points of view on how another individual should live their life and analyze the way that they are living their life. So for my particular character it’s more straightforward and to the point, but it also beats around the bush… Amanda’s character is more trippy because she talks about mermaids and otters. John Henry takes a more religious view towards it. So they’re real world aspects but we take them with a different spin,” Simone described.

 The second act show, “Church,” follows the basic format of a church service that is intended to provoke the audience to think about the way they live their lives.

 “It’s trying to divide the tropes of a church service from the ideas that should be behind it,” Henry said.

 However, “Church” takes on a less accusatory tone than “Pullman, WA” and is not intended to criticize or poke fun at the church. The actors strive to make the church service realistic and sincere.

 “It’s in the pretty wonderful sense that it’s very open minded and it’s not, ‘everything you do is not the way that it should be done and how we see it.’ It’s more like, ‘this is what we do and everything you do isn’t horrible’ … It’s not making fun of the church. We are genuine with it,” Rappa said.

 While “Pullman, WA” and “Church” are very different in plot, there is a common theme that runs throughout, connecting the two acts.

 “Basically both shows deal with the fact that the audience doesn’t know how to live. Both shows are trying to teach the audience how to live in two different ways,” Kropa said.

 Because of this common theme, the audience plays a large role in the production, and audience interaction is encouraged. While the actors have been busy memorizing lines and rehearsing, the show cannot be complete until the audience takes their seat.

 “A lot of the show is us talking to the audience… once we actually get people we can do the show completely. We can rehearse the show as much as we want, but we can never fully do the show unless there’s an audience,” Kropa said.

 The production promises to raise unique and personal questions for each individual audience member. Everyone will walk away with his or her own unique interpretation of the show.

 “I know it’s kind of cliché but we don’t give out very many answers, but we give out a lot of questions. So as long as we leave people with questioning and trying to figure out how these connections work in their minds I think that’s worth it…What we should be going for is trying to start an earnest conversation,” Henry explained.

 If you’re ready for an introspective look at your life or just want to enjoy some good entertainment, head to the Berrie Center box office to get your ticket to “Pullman, WA” and “Church.” Tickets are $5 for students and shows start at 8 p.m. As cast member Caroline Harvey puts it, “Come with an open mind and ready to participate.”