PORTALES—Eastern New Mexico University in Portales will present the play “Whose Life is it Anyway?” at 7 p.m. on April 22–25 in the studio theater of the University Theatre Center. Tickets are $4 at the theater box office.
Professor Janeice Scarbrough, chair of theatre and director of the production, says they have been working on something completely new. “This will be the first time we will be performing theater in the round. We’ve had the shop build another section of seating so that the audience will be on all sides of the stage.
The play is about a woman who must struggle with the question, “Whose life is it anyway?” After she is in an accident and is confined to a hospital bed, she comes to grips with her own mortality and her desire to leave the world in the way she chooses. Her doctors and caretakers oppose her and a legal battle ensues.
Scarbrough chose this production because it makes the audience leave with some pressing questions. “It really makes you ask a lot of questions about yourself and the forces around you. Like does the government, your doctors or your insurance company have the right to make decisions about your well-being,” says Scarbrough. “I hope the audience will see all the sides of the characters’ arguments and make their own decisions.”
The lead role of Claire Harrison is played by Mackenzie Kennedy, a freshman theater performance major from Lubbock, Texas. Other performers are freshman Jessica Eaker from Farmington, Christopher Montoya from Clovis, Andy Kastelic from Los Lunas, Jeremy Gardels from Portales, sophomore Michelle Smith from Taos, Dr. Anne Beck from Portales, Bo Adkins from Albuquerque, Jeffrey Darnell from Carlsbad, and Samantha Fields and Jennifer Conlee from Lubbock, Texas.
After rehearsing for a month, with only a recess for spring break, Scarbrough is impressed with the maturity of her mostly-student cast. “I have hard-working, talented and committed actors. The lead is an 18-year-old freshman who has landed the role of a lifetime. Eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds don’t often ask themselves what would it take to end my life. She is mature enough to wrestle with those questions.”
The original version of the play has the lead role as a male. Years ago it was adapted into a female version with Mary Tyler Moore. Along with this variation, there were some roles which were originally meant for men and were turned into female characters.
The new addition of seating to the studio theater has been a challenge, but it’s a good challenge, says Scarbrough. “This forces the students who are designing the set, lighting and my blocking the movement of performers around the stage to think about how it will be seen by all four sides. And here’s an added challenge: the main character is in a hospital bed. But that’s the great thing about our department, if you want to design costumes, do lighting or set design, you get to do all of that.”
For ticket information, contact Shirlene Peters at 575.562.2711.