Reflections on College Life: Pacific University Theatre's Winter Production Examines Two Boxer Women Living Fifty Years Apart

This winter on Pacific University’s Tom Miles Theatre stage, the lives of two Pacific University women intersect across time in Dance Slow Decades, a play by Kailea Saplan '15 and directed by Debbie Lamedman.

Inspired by letters left to the university by alumna Cheron (Messmer) Mayhall '64, Saplan began working on the play as her senior thesis. Dance Slow Decades examines the lives of two Pacific women living 50 years apart.

Evelyn Fields, a senior in 1964, is an overachieving sociology major who’s got her fingers in everything on campus. Her modern day counterpart, Akiko Cooper, is a theatre major who is also juggling her academic, social and love lives during a tumultuous senior year. In a blending of then and now, Evelyn’s perspective is told through the letters she writes to her mother, while we learn about Akiko through text messages and conversations with her mother and friends. Spanning September through May, the year presents personal challenges and monumental cultural moments that define their particular times.

Lamedman, who trained and worked as a professional actor in New York, doesn’t shy away from jumping onstage to explain her vision. “I really want to serve the script,” she says. With the cast, she guides them to find the humanity that’s implied on the page. For many, this means finding their footing in both 2014 and 1964, as they double roles in each era.

The lives and loves of these women are placed in their respective cultures through fashion, speech, and multimedia elements. Costume designer Melissa Heller is embracing the challenge of dressing the cast in ways that allow them to cross between time periods quickly. 

“This show is quite tricky in that many of the actors play multiple roles living within different time periods, but often many of those single characters transition between decades themselves," she says. "The hope is to be able to draw enough similar visual lines that speak not only to the characters themselves, but the zeitgeist and aesthetic in the era that they exist. Also on the creative team is Technical Director Tal Sanders, whose scenic work deftly manages multiple locations and encompassing an active college campus.

Dance Slow Decades features an outstanding cast of student actors, including McKenzie Brock, Emy Gaub, Haley McKinnon, Malachi Skjeie, Emily Hanson, Jordan Miller, Abby Morgan, Gabie Mbenza-Ngoma, Corri Seideman, Alex Montgomery, Devin Moss and Calvin Porterfield.

The show runs Thursday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 14 in the Tom Miles Theatre (Warner Hall) on the university's Forest Grove Campus. Curtain opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee concludes the run. Tickets range from $5 to $8 and may be purchased in advance online at tinyurl.com/pacudsd, or by calling the Pacific University Box Office at 503-352-2918.

The cast and crew will partake in a question and answer session with the audience following the opening performance (Thursday, Feb. 11).

For more information, please contact Pacific Theatre & Dance Department chair Ellen Margolis at margolis@pacificu.edu or 503-352-2752.

Jan. 26, 2016