Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Katherine Fly
PORTALES – Pack your bags and prepare to take a trip along with the cast and crew of the Eastern New Mexico University Department of Theatre's"The Trip to Bountiful" when the show opens Oct. 17 on ENMU's Mainstage.
The curtains will open at 8 p.m. Oct. 17-19. Tickets are $7 for general admission, $6 for senior citizens, $4 for ENMU students, and $5 for precollege-age persons.
The play is evenly divided into three acts and tells the poignant story of Mrs. Watts (played by Kristin Berg), an aging widow living with her son and daughter-in-law (played by Allen Kennedy and Jennifer Marie Livingston) in a small apartment in Houston, Texas.
Fearing that her presence may be an imposition on others, and chafing under the rigid and selfish supervision of her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Watts imagines that if she can just get away and return to her old home in the town of Bountiful, she is sure to regain her strength, dignity and peace of mind. She escapes the confines of the city and makes a lonely pilgrimage to the scene of her old, beloved home in Texas.
Very soon, she learns that the friends of her youth have all died or scattered, and her home is no longer the spacious mansion of her memories, but a crumbling wreck. Still, she plunges her hands into the strength-giving earth and she regains the courage to survive.
When her son and daughter-in-law appear on the scene to take her back to Houston, she consents to return quietly, secure in the knowledge that she has enriched the remainder of her existence because of her last contact with Bountiful.
Director Felipe Macias said that the cast has been rehearsing for the past three weeks and the show is coming along well. "The Trip to Bountiful" is the senior recital production for actress Kristin Berg and is also part of the senior recital for Tara Miller, who is a design major and will be designing the lighting for the show, Macias said.
"A senior recital is really a capstone assignment," he said. "For Kristin, being a theater performance major, it's a role which we feel will be particularly challenging to her. The role was assigned to her last April when we finalized our season." Since Berg is a 21-year-old senior, playing an elderly woman is a stretch for her, Macias said. "Some makeup will be used but it's mostly just her. Again, that's part of the challenge of the senior recital role. It's a role that should really make them stretch as actors," he said. Berg said she received this role at the end of her junior year, and after the show a talk-back session will determine whether or not she will be graduating with her degree based off of her performance in "The Trip to Bountiful."
"It really is nerve racking, but at the same time it's a lot of fun," she said. "This is what you have been working toward all four years of college." Although "The Trip to Bountiful" is a beautiful play, her role has been incredibly challenging, Berg said.
"I'm only 21 years old, so I'll have to say that it is the hardest part that I have ever had to play in my entire life, and I've been acting since high school," she said. "She is 65, and this is 1953, so she has gone through the Great Depression. She's worked on a farm. She worked the land like a man, and she picked cotton, and she's had a hard life, and I'm like ... well, let's see ... I drive and I used to live in Albuquerque, and I've done nothing hard. So I did a lot of research for the part. I've looked up things online and I went and spoke with some elderly people about what it was like to grow up back then and things like that."
Macias describes "The Trip to Bountiful" as a "great, great" play.
"Horton Foote is the playwright, and I have been wanting to do a show of his for years," he said. "He's a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, and he has won academy awards for 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and for 'Tender Mercies' as well.
"As a matter of fact, Geraldine Page won a Best Actress Oscar for this show when it was made into a movie in the early '80s," he said. "He is just one of our great American playwrights, and it's just a work that our students should know and that really should be produced, and that was my main reason for doing it."
For information on the performances, call ENMU at 562.2710.
Jennifer Marie Livingston (as the daughter-in-law) confronts Kristin Berg (as Mrs. Watts) during a recent rehearsal of "The Trip to Bountiful." (photo by Richard Salas)
Allen Kennedy (playing the son of Mrs. Watts) comforts Kristin Berg (as Mrs. Watts) during a recent rehearsal for "The Trip to Bountilful." (photo by Richard Salas)