SMSU Theater show ‘T.I.C.’ is a mix of ‘styles and themes’

Photo by Cindy Votruba The Southwest Minnesota State University Theater Department is presenting “T.I.C. (Trenchcoat in Common)” in the Black Box Theatre this week.

MARSHALL — Describing the show on stage this week at Southwest Minnesota State University’s Black Box Theatre is no easy task, said its guest director.

“The play is an amalgam of styles and themes,” Matthew Murry said. “You can call it a comedy, but there are dramatic moments. The play is dark and sweet, raunchy and heartfelt, farcical, yet gravely serious.”

The Southwest Minnesota State University Theater Department is presenting “T.I.C. (Trenchcoat in Common)” at 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the SMSU Black Box Theatre. The show is being directed by Murry, a professional actor, director and educator.

According to an SMSU news release, the show is described as “fast-paced, inventive, and full of quirky characters, ‘T.I.C.’ is a darkly comic adventure in which a lonely, bored teen uses technology and social media to spy on and blog about her neighbors. But when one of them goes missing, she must team up with another misfit and venture into the real world to solve the mystery.”

Jordan Stangeland, one of the show’s cast members, describes the show as a “dark comedy.”

“It really makes you think about the weird stuff people do when they think no one is watching,” he said.

Olivia Sanders, who plays Kid in the show, said the show is kind of like a drama/mystery.

“But it also holds a lot of comedic parts as well as emotion that are hard to put into a genre,” Sanders said. “But it’s definitely fun.”

The show is very odd in its own way, Emma Runyan said.

“It’s incredibly funny but has dark humor placed all over,” she said. “Every character has their own weird characteristics that perfectly fit together with the rest of the characters.”

Sanders said when she initially looked at the script, she knew she loved it.

“The play is just so funny and dark, and it wasn’t something I’ve done before,” she said.

Runyan, who portrays Sabra, said the play was nothing like she expected.

“I was also very surprised with the plot twists throughout the show,” she said.

When he first read through the script, Stangeland thought it was so quirky and fun.

“There were some shocking and hilarious moments,” he said.

Each actor brings their own personal history, voices, physicality, personalities, set of quirks, etc. to their roles, Murry said.

“The key is to find both the similarities and the differences between the character and the actor,” Murry said. “An actor is never playing themselves on stage nor are they playing someone completely different. The actor is playing a mixture of the character and themselves.”

Stangeland portrays Terrence in the show. He describes the character as a misunderstood guy who means well but has some interesting hobbies.

“A weirdo with a heart of gold,” he said.

Sanders said her character, in every sense really, is a typical angsty teen.

“She thinks she’s too cool for school and is definitely very mean,” Sanders said. “But she’s also struggling and doesn’t know how to cope.”

Runyan said her character is a very quirky and outgoing, but lonely woman with a secret dark side.

Murry said working with the cast has been great.

“We have actors of diverse age and background, and it’s been fun getting to know them all,” he said.

Stangeland said Murry has been great to work with as well.

“He gives a lot of really specific directions, and that really helps the cast get into character more, but still gives the cast freedom to explore what we think our character should do,” Stangeland said.

Working with Murry has been something else, Sanders said.

“I don’t know if it’s just because it’s my first college production or what, but the directing is definitely different than I’m used to,” she said. “He gives a lot of good advice on characterization and always has notes for us, which I appreciate.”

Runyan said it has been a new experience working with a new director.

“I’ve been so used to my high school play director for the past four years, learning how a new director works was interesting,” she said. “Matt is always very patient with us and gives us necessary advice to develop our characters the best way possible.”

Murry said he gave his actors a bit of advice.

“Since this play is not set in the realm of true realism, I’ve told the actors not to be afraid of the ridiculousness of their characters,” Murry said.