BROCKWAY — Tennyson once wrote that it is “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
The characters in “Almost, Maine,” a play by John Cariani, put that to the test through nine vignettes looking at love and loss.
“Almost, Maine,” is one of the most-produced plays in high schools across the United States. When Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School’s new theater co-director Justin Parson was looking at plays, he decided that “Almost, Maine” was almost perfect to start the new era of Brockway Theater.
“This play is unique because it’s a series of vignettes with no reoccurring characters,” Parson explained. “There are only two or three actors on the stage at a time. It seemed to be manageable for the first time our new team produces a play.”
Set in a fictional Maine town called Almost, the play has a common setting – a restaurant. At different tables, people go about their lives, finding new love, rekindling old flames, or getting their hearts broken. The play is described as having a “magical realism,” almost being absurd as it explores pain and love.
“I’d hate to call it a romantic comedy because it’s almost romantic,” Parson said. “The characters almost get to the resolution. The audience has to make the leap.”
Parson and his co-director Justin Salada worked with the students, aligning schedules that did not cut into sports practices. With each vignette being self-contained, the actors could come in on different days for practices.
“Everyone gets to be the star of their own scene,” Parson said. “For our first show as directors, we wanted to see as many students as possible have that chance.”
Doing the play a little bit at a time means that many of the actors have almost worked together on the show, but will soon come to the same stage at the same time just before the week of the show.
“This is a well-known play,” Parson said. “But it’s almost unknown around here. When the kids read it through the first time, they really enjoyed it.”
The play is written to sound as close to natural conversation as possible. Parson describes the dialog as being “staccato.”
“It’s people talking over each other, arguing, talking naturally,” he said. “It’s almost hard to practice that!”
Parson’s co-director is working on the sets. Their current design is an interior set and an exterior set. The hardest part of those sets is mimicking the Northern Lights.
“The Northern Lights are almost a character in the play,” Parson said. “We can’t project them on the stage with the overhead projector, so we have to figure out a practical way of doing it.”
The play runs Nov. 16-18 in the Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School Auditorium. A different feature this year is that the tickets will be sold by seat numbers. Theatergoers get to choose their seat online, and each ticket corresponds to an actual seat in the auditorium.
“It’s like a real theater experience,” Parson said. “We just sold our first set of tickets today!”
Tickets are available at the school or online at rovers.ticketleap.com.