Curtain Call: Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues
What: Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man's Blues (live musical theater)
When: 2010-12-02 - 2010-12-05
SIU's Theatre Department often strives to challenge audiences to confront the world around them, and Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues is no exception. Under the direction of Susan Patrick Benson, the production premieres Thursday, December 2 and runs through Sunday, December 5 in the SIU Communications Building's McLeod Theatre. Nightlife recently spoke with some members of the cast about the production.
"Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues is pretty much a poetic interpretation of a script that is more poetic than a normal play would be as far as scriptwise," said Simone Biles, a junior in SIU's Theater Department who plays the role of Tirasol.
"Basically, it is about a young woman who loses her husband," Biles added. "She loses him to war, actually. He goes off to war and he passes away, and so we all see his ghost. All of the women kind of represent a stage of grief. In my character, it is actually more of the anger and the bitterness-- one of the five stages. It's amazing, because you get to see the journey of all of the women through the course of the play-- how they come in and out of their stages and how they learn to accept it and accept his death, and how it is affecting his wife, which is the character of Simone."
While anyone who has ever lost a loved one should relate to the overall theme of the play, one of Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues' other themes is the cost of war-- both in the loss of life that results and the aftermath of that loss for the survivors and the overall community.
"On the surface, this play will seem to be about grief and loss, but in its soul lies a play about what war is doing to us as a human race," Biles said. "We all are losing someone every day when there is war and the legal killings of others. They are devastating, tragic losses that we can't ever take back. There was not a specific war that Jamie dies in. We can assume that it could be any war."
While the subject matter is heavy and intense, there is more than just darkness.
"I would encourage [people to see Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues] by saying it can get kind of personal for anyone who has suffered a loss of someone, and I'm pretty sure that most people have lost at least one person in their life," Biles said. "At times it can be funny, but at times it can also be a tearjerker. If you really listen hard and listen to what the characters are going through and relate to them, it is definitely something that gets inside of your heart."
Katelynn Ratliff, a junior in theater at SIU, portrays the role of Miranda.
"[S]he's a young girl in her late teens in the show," Ratliff said about Miranda. "She's been close to Simone, she had a relationship with Jamie, the husband of Simone, before he was married. She is your average dippy teenager who acts out a lot. She talks back a lot, she's very mouthy. She's trying to be grown up and act like the women she sees around her."
The greatest joy for Ratliff in working on this production has been the opportunity to work with director Susan Patrick Benson.
"I really wanted to work with Susan because I had never worked with her before," Ratliff said. "It has been an amazing experience working with Susan. She really helped me come out of my shell and challenged me as an actor."
With such serious subject matter, Ratliff advised the audience to bring tissues.
"It's definitely more dramatic," Ratliff said. "It really pulls at the heartstrings through most of it, and it brings up a lot of issues about grief and dealing with grief and the stages of it, but there are a few lighthearted moments-- but most of it is, you see Simone struggle."
Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens, and $6 for students and children. Season tickets are $52 for adults and $24 for students. For tickets, visit <http://www.SouthernTicketsOnline.com>. Visit <http://www.theater.siu.edu> for more information.
who: SIU Theatre Department
what: Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man's Blues (live musical theater)
where: Communications Building McLeod Theatre
when: Thursday through Sunday, December 2 through December 5