Mig Windows, left, and Danny Walker appear in Southern Oregon University's premiere of David McCandless' new play, 'Invisible Threads.' - Photo courtesy of Greg Eliason

'Invisible Threads' at SOU

A play within a play, "Invisible Threads" is set in motion when a pair of down-at-heels actors and their clueless stage manager are asked to apply their theatrical skills to a real-life crisis. They enter the lives of a family beset by problems, and complications ensue when the actors — or is it their characters? — become emotionally entangled.

"In the play, the woman who hires the actors and stage manager is sort of a spiritual guru with mysterious links to the family," says theater-arts professor David McCandless. "As the actors assume their roles as a Southern maid, an Oxford-educated tutor and a New Age guru, they begin to actually become these people ... to become emotionally involved with the family and each other."

McCandless directs this premiere of his new play. Performances are set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, and Thursday through Saturday, March 7-9, and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 9-10, in the Center Stage Theatre on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. Tickets cost $21, $18 for seniors and $6 for students.

McCandless says he got the idea for "Invisible Threads" from his graduate studies of the Theatre of the Absurd, a French designation for plays of absurdist fiction written in the late '50s by a number of European playwrights — especially Russian playwright Nikolai Evreinov.

"Evreinov harbored a similar interest in confounding the boundaries between theater and life," McCandless states in a press release. "One of his plays, 'The Main Thing,' intrigued me. I found the premise so tantalizing that I resolved to write a new play based on it, putting my own spin on the irresistible idea of actors using their talents to rescue the afflicted."

McCandless is a faculty member of SOU's Shakespeare studies and dramatic literature. He taught at University of California at Berkeley and Carleton College in Minnesota before joining the SOU faculty in 2010.

McCandless describes "Invisible Threads" as "a real ensemble show."

"We have a cast of nine with all the characters having equal stage time," he says. "These are nine fully developed characters. The actors also get to play multiple characters, in a sense.

"This is a play about reality versus imagination. It's the left brain versus the right brain. It also has a lot of comic whimsy."

McCandless directed SOU's productions of "You Can't Take It With You" in 2011 and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 2012.

The cast includes Mackenzie Bizon, Gavin Douglas, Jeffrey Hayes, Olena Hodges, Ayla Kearns, Shadee Vossoughi, Daniel Walker, Mig Windows, Grace Wolcott and Russell Yamamoto. Scenic design is by Sean O'Skea, light design by Andrew Trent and sound design by Kevin Burnette.

Call 541-552-6348 or see www.sou.edu/theatre for tickets and information.

Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.

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