Audience to help drive plot for ‘Museum’ production

Marshall High’s Tiger Theatre to be held in lobby of Schwan Community Center for the Arts

Submitted photo Rose Hansen rehearses a scene from Marshall High School’s production of “Museum.”

MARSHALL — For Marshall High School’s latest theater production, the actors will only be a few inches away from the audience members.

Marshall High School’s Tiger Theatre is presenting “Museum” Wednesday-Friday in the lobby of the Schwan Community Center for the Arts. Hors d’oeuvres will be served, starting at 7 p.m., and the performance will be at 8 p.m.

MHS English teacher Dan Smith, the show’s director, said he and the students wanted to turn the theater into a museum for the production so they would invite audience members to see the artworks that drive the plot of the play.

“That led to us making the decision to perform the play in the theater lobby, which is set up as a ‘block box’ space for our production,” he said. “Of course that limits seating (to 90), but will lead to a very unique experience for people who get to see the show. There will be several moments when actors will be very close to audience members and we hope that they will feel that they’re in the world of the museum and the story of the play.” Smith said there will be a special “hors d’oeuvres hour” hosted by MHS teacher Kris Campion’s Foods: Pro-Start II class that has designed the menu and will be serving at each performance.

Meredith Bock, one of the actors, said it has been a fun and different learning experience to perform a show in the lobby.

“It is a much smaller space, which provides a much more closer and intimate feeling between the actors and audience,” she said. “I think this forces us as actors to commit entirely to our characters and actions. You can’t give 50% and think the audience will believe that. Sometimes in this production we will be only inches away from an audience member.

“We have to give 110% because that is what is going to bring our characters to life and make them believable.”

Besides having a different kind of venue, the show also attracted students who are new to Tiger Theatre. MHS seniors Chloe Hinson and KC Boerboom decided to give a theater a try before they graduated.

“This is my first and last production at Marshall High School,” Boerboom said. “I have played hockey and swimming my whole high school career, and I wanted to try something new and different. Plus some of my really good friends told me I should try it and do it with them.”

Hinson wanted to join the theater “family.”

“My friends that have been involved with theater have always told me about how close all of the actors become throughout the show, and I thought that would be a positive experience,” Hinson said. “I also struggle with public speaking, so I wanted to use the show to my advantage by making me more comfortable in front of crowds.”

When she first read through the script, Hinson said she started laughing hysterically.

“The show has some amazing and deep moments, but it’s based around real-life humor,” she said. “The first time I saw my peers make the script come to life, I was so amazed because they were chosen so perfectly for the roles, and they made the show feel so real. The show has breathtaking meaning, but also takes lighthearted humor to a whole new level.”

“I thought that this show was going to be something totally different from anything the high school has ever done,” Boerboom said.

Throughout the course of the evening 35 different characters visit the museum and interact with the artworks, the museum guards and each other, Smith said.

“As a result, the play explores the many different ways that we interact with art and the ways that art speaks to us or seems silly and bizarre,” he said. “Every piece of art in the exhibit is a ridiculous laughable joke to some characters and deeply meaningful to others. It is a quirky comedy that is very funny in several moments and quiet and thought-provoking in others.”

Hinson plays four of those 35 characters throughout the show. First is Maggie Snow, who Hinson describes as a “confused, lost and sassy woman.”

“My second character is Barbara Castle,” she said. “She is a stuck-up and fashionable woman that is only at the museum to get her name out there and to be seen. My third character is Harriet and she is a woman that doesn’t understand the artworks at all, nor does she understand that you’re supposed to be quiet and respectful in a museum.” Hinson also plays the voice of a mute and deaf mother of one of the artists that has artwork on display during the show.

Bock also gets to play a few characters as well. One is Barbara Zimmer, who comes into the museum with her best friend, also named Barbara.

“These young ladies couldn’t care less about the artworks in the museum, they really just go to the museum to be seen,” Bock said “The Barbaras are basically clones of each other. They are best friends but enemies at the same time, and everything they do is a competition. Playing Barbara Zimmer has been very fun because she is extremely over the top and dramatic.”

Bock also plays May, a college-age girl, who is disruptive at the museum with a couple of her friends, and Mrs. Moe, who is in the final scene of the show. Both Mrs. Moe and her husband are deaf and mute.

“An interesting aspect of playing this character has been having to learn sign language,” Bock said about portraying Mrs. Moe. “I talk to Mr. Moe (played by Jack Pedersen) through sign language while two other cast members say our lines out loud so audience members will know what we are saying.”

Boerboom portrays two characters during the show — Mrs. Salt, an elderly woman she describes as a “know-it-all” woman, and Zoe, a 40-year-old woman married to a man named Giorgio.

Smith said the show’s playwright, Tina Howe, is known for writing fast-paced and witty dialogue that is very challenging for high school actors.

“Our students have worked hard to develop character and bring the dialogue to life,” Smith said. “We think that audiences will have a lot of fun with the production — there are a lot of memorable characters and moments.”