The Mercer Players to present a work of “Fiction”

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Blossom Onunekwu, Contributing Writer

 

The Mercer Players will bring another delight to the stage with their production of Steven Dietz’s “Fiction.

Though neither of them had ever heard of “Fiction, Scot Mann, who works as an associate professor and director of theater for Mercer, and Marian Zielinski, a professor of theater in the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre, became interested in the play due to their fondness of Dietz’s other works.

“Fiction” contains only three characters. The plot centers around husband and wife Michael (Cohen Bickley) and Linda (Katie Clay) — two successful authors whose lives are turned around when Linda discovers she has terminal cancer. She grants permission for her husband to read her journal after she dies so long as she is able to read his as well. In doing so, it is revealed that an affair has occurred, and the rest of the play depicts the complications that ensue. Abby (Hannah Fancher), the head of a writer’s colony, becomes an integral part of the couple’s secrets.

“It really speaks to how our writing relates to ourselves and how that legacy is something that you leave behind,” Mann said, “And when others read it, it becomes something else.”

As the director of a play, Mann admitted that casting only three characters for “Fiction” wasn’t easy.

“We have very good actors here,” he said. “It makes choosing difficult in a good way.”

Lighting has also been one of the production’s significant challenges. The scenes will be set up  — for the first time in a Mercer production — with ‘in the round’ seating. Audience members will sit around the characters in a circle, and lights have to be positioned in every angle to block out shadows.

By creating only three characters, Mann said Dietz honed his talent into creating extensive, dynamic dialogue.

“There is so much depth to the characters that every time we rehearse, we find something new,” he said.

For the actors, learning the lines is of course an obstacle, but Mann said, “The real challenge is honoring the characters.”

The characters’ understudies will have an opportunity to perform, too. This rendition will be presented exclusively for art majors and minors. Mann said that he wants to encourage a unification of the many art disciplines within the Mercer community.

“The artistic experience is part of what makes the Mercer community unique,” he said. “People should take advantage of that while they’re in college.”

“Fiction” will open Thursday, Nov. 12 in the Tattnall Square Center for the Arts.