One week to curtain

Theater and dance prepares to open its first show of the season

“Welcome to the White Room,” Keene State Theater and Dance’s (TAD) alumni-run production, is well underway for a busy opening night in two weeks.

The play follows three scientists placed in an all white room and are faced with the challenge of going through the most desirable game ever played, and using their skills to complete riddles and puzzles.

The production itself is completely run by Keene State alumni, one of which is the show’s director Jacob Lavoie. Lavoie talked about how positive it has been working alongside other alumni. “It was really exciting [to] connect with new people who I feel already so connected to because of Keene State… It’s been really nice for all of us to be able to connect with the students and share our resources and our information,” Lavoie said.

Lavoie finds the alumni team to be a helpful resource for current TAD students and overall a fun experience that is, “humbling and just so satisfying.”

Junior Patrick Eckland, who plays Mr. Paine in the show, talks about how much he is also enjoying working with the alumni. “It’s really comforting to work with people like Jacob and Caroline, that have come out of the program… it’s really comforting to know that they were in the same spot we were at one time,” Eckland said. Eckland also said he is looking forward to going into tech week with the cast.

Senior Justine Sanchez, who plays Jennings, said the alumni team and her role has pushed her to work hard. “I feel really motivated and feel like I’m going to do the best of my ability [and] do all these things during the process, and [be] more focused,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also said being off-book since the second week of rehearsals has been a huge confidence boost for her as an actress. “Running through the show without calling for line… Like that was such a moment where I felt like really really proud of myself,” Sanchez said.

Junior Erika Walker, who plays Ms. White, talks about what the directors had her do in terms of character development, “We do work on character portfolios for each of our characters… [we answer] questions of what your character would be doing at this exact moment yesterday, or like why did the playwright write the character, and like how does that correlate to the playwright’s life,” Walker said.

Walker describes the alumni experience to be very relatable, “I think it’s awesome, actually, because in a way they’re on the same playing field as us, having just graduated college two, three years ago, their minds still understand college.” Walker said she appreciates everything Lavoie and the other alumni have taught and contributed to the show.

In terms of how rehearsals are going, Lavoie said, “I am really impressed with how quickly everything has come together. I mean they’ve had to learn over 50 pages of dialogue in two weeks.”

Lavoie explained that since the cast is almost transitioning into the final stage of production, they need to make sure to keep focusing on character relationships while being on stage. This is to ensure everything comes out really clean and well rehearsed.

“Welcome to the White Room” is a show that is very relevant to today’s society. “The play is not very well known, nor is the playwright,” Lavoie said. “But I think [that it] is really relevant and really a timely piece right now, because it questions reality and also questions our relationship with technology [and] explores a lot of different themes.”

Similarly, Walker describes the show as “kind of like a slap in the face of infusing technology with reality because with social media now. It’s like everything you see on a screen is like real life and so like that’s what I personally took it as with this show.”

The cast and alumni crew warmly encourage anyone who is interested to see the show. “COVID was terrible for everybody,” Eckland said. “And I think we have just a really fun show. If people want to come and just watch and laugh, and maybe smile, hopefully, I think they should come. It’s gonna be really fun.”

Performances of “Welcome to the White Room” are in the Wright Theater at the Redfern Arts Center from October 12 through 16. There will be in-person performances each of those days at 7:30 p.m. (with a 40 person limit) and two live stream performances on October 16 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets can now be purchased online on the Keene State website or at the box office in the Redfern Arts Center.

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