Among his influences, Lindsay-Abaire lists playwrights John Guare, Edward Albee, Georges Feydeau, Eugène Ionesco, and George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, 1930s screwball comedy films My Man Godfrey, Twentieth Century, and "anything by Preston Sturges, Frank Capra, the Marx Brothers, and Abbott and Costello." Walking a fine line between grave reality and joyous lunacy, the world of his plays is often dark, funny, blithe, enigmatic, hopeful, ironic, and somewhat cockeyed. "My plays tend to be peopled with outsiders in search of clarity." Lindsay-Abaire also has writing credit on two screenplays, Robots (2005) and Inkheart (2007).
Lindsay-Abaire's most recent project is the book for the musical High Fidelity. He was also nominated for two Tony Awards for the book and lyrics of Shrek the Musical.
For Rabbit Hole, Lindsay-Abaire followed the advice of his Julliard mentor and teacher, Marsha Norman, who said to “write about that which you fear the most.” Upon having his first child, he penned this Pulitzer-Prize-winning play.
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
A tale of love, loss, hilarity, fear, and hope.
Nov. 19-22, 2009
Black Box Theatre
Oct. 8–11, 2009
Memorial Hall Auditorium
The New York Times called it “a stunning drama … It is the quintessence of life. It is the basic truth. In a plantation house, the members of the family are celebrating the sixty-fifth birthday of the Big Daddy, as they sentimentally dub him. The tone is gay. But the mood is somber. For a number of old evils poison the gaiety — sins of the past, greedy hopes for the future, a desperate eagerness not to believe in the truths that surround them … ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof’ is a delicately wrought exercise in human communication. ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof’ is limpid and effortless. As theatre, it is superb.”
“Maggie is trying to remain sane as best as she can in a situation where she feels entirely alone and completely frustrated. She does her best to end this ‘hideous transformation’ and maintain some pieces of her normal life. She is so close to losing everything she’s ever known. As a performer, I tried to understand the desperation of this woman and realize her situation depends on each and every moment. It’s such a challenge and somewhat exhausting to fill Maggie’s shoes but it’s also one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had on stage.”
“I think the best part of this production is that everything about it is challenging! I don’t remember, in all four years of my college experience, a play containing accents and such immense material. This play is so original compared to other productions. Every character has something to work with and a story. I feel very lucky to get this opportunity.”
“I honestly think people will enjoy this performance because it’s such a well-written piece of work. The script, to me, is captivating.”
“I play the role of Brick, which to me has been one of the most interesting and difficult characters I have ever had the opportunity to play. He’s totally alone within himself, his life, his family, in which he refuses to accept where he is. To Brick, he has only had one great true friend in his life, who is now gone. So to him, there’s a sense of ‘what is the point of all of this? I have no friends, I hate my wife, my family.’ He’s always waiting for that moment where everything makes sense. Unfortunately, the way he does this is very sad to think about.”
“The one thing that has made this challenging, I think for everyone, is that all of the characters are so colorful in their own way. There is not one single character in the entire play that does not have a kind of depth to them, some kind of background, that does not make you want to find out more about them, or follow them further.”
“Every single person can relate to at least one character in the play. It’s all about communication, how incredibly hard it can be whether it’s a complete stranger, a friend or a family member you know better than anyone else, and the life-altering consequences when you have no communication.”
“I am Big Mama. I am the life of the party; I’m the one who planned this birthday party and am trying as hard as I can to keep it going. I don’t know the entire truth about Big Daddy until the end of the night and then you see a shift into someone that you didn’t see earlier. Big Mama is a larger than life woman, literally and figuratively; her personality is something that I think everyone will appreciate in this show.
“For this role I prepared by getting more familiar with the script and watching some clips from the movie. This role has been a challenge for me, more so than some that I have been involved in, even from high school, so it’s taken a lot of time and preparation to get into the Big Mama mind frame.”
“Something that I find challenging is the accents we have to speak with. Most of us are not completely familiar with the accents so that has taken some time to get used to as well as the lines and blocking. It’s also different for me personally because I have never been a part of a classical play such as ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof;’ so some of the language and style of this play is different than what I am used to.”
“‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ is a great show to see, and most people will be able to relate, not necessarily with some of the situations that happen, but with the relationships and the overall plot of the play. We would really appreciate the support of the community and students so take some time out and come see us!”
“Big Daddy is a character who copes with a lot of the issues that are associated with being a bombastic millionaire. He has achieved immense success at every level of his business and professional life, but has neglected his personal life for so long that he has become disconnected from what ultimately matters most, his family. He is withdrawn and selfish. The situation isn’t helped by any of his family members, who are all essentially walking on egg shells when they are in the same room as him, sucking up, laughing at bad jokes, hoping to be mentioned in his will.”
“This production has been a sincere joy to work on. Each member of the cast has really taken to their parts, and made this a very collaborative experience. I’m very proud of the work that we’ve put in, and am confident that this show will stick out as one of the best CSC productions in recent years. It’s been a special experience and I would be remiss to not thank Roger Mays (director) for the opportunity to play such a dynamic character.”
“Choosing which college to attend was a very stressful experience for me. Ultimately I chose the more affordable option, and have not regretted it once. I am part of a theatre program with a dedicated following and an amazing faculty that is truly interested in my personal success. Furthermore, those of us in the program are essentially each other’s family away from home. Simply put, we are members of a small program that produces quality theatre.”
“I play Gooper, who is Big Daddy and Big Mama’s oldest son. Gooper feels unappreciated by his family and and resents Brick and Big Daddy for Big Daddy’s favoritism toward Brick. He and his wife Mae both seem to think their family deserves the plantation when Big Daddy dies.”
“The biggest challenge for me in this role is that I have never played an antagonist before. Basically my goal for the play is to deceive my family and make them think that I’m only looking our for everybody’s best interests when I’m really just trying to get a good sized inheritance. Also, I think speaking a southern dialect has been an interesting and fun challenge for everyone in the cast.”
“This show is a classic that everyone should try to see at least once in their life. It’s very exciting just to be included in the cast, so I hope a lot of people come see the play so we can show off all our hard work.”
“The character I portray is Reverend Tooker, who of course is pretty much a pastor, so he’s respected greatly. However, he’s always on the lookout for who can help him out with his church the most; in other words, who can give up the most cash to make his congregation look good. I would say that he has definitely got a selfish side, but also is very respectful of Big Daddy and his family; they’ve known each other for quite some time. Approaching the role, I put myself in that old-time religious man position, being humble and all, but assertive when I need to be.”
“This is the most serious, or dramatic, role that I’ve played in a production; even though it’s not a major role, I am still in extreme life experience situations that revolve around life and death of loved ones. Most of my other roles have been very comical and colorful, showing my strong potential in bringing a humorous atmosphere to the audience, and the role I played in ‘Cyrano,’ three semesters ago, was a mixture of dramatic and comical, I guess you could say.”
“This play is definitely the closest to ‘real-life’ than any of the other productions we put on here at CSC, at least the ones that I’ve been in. Even though the time period is set way back in the day, we can still catch the same conflicts and situations that we face today within families and all sorts of relationships.”
“My character is Doctor Baugh. He is a businessman as well as a physician. He has sympathy for his patients and their families, but when honesty is crucial, he is straightforward.
“Learning about your character involves analyzing their lines and actions, and with Doctor Baugh it also involves identifying his goals and the tasks appointed to him. For example, Doc Baugh has the unfortunate task of informing Big Mama that her husband is dying of cancer. Obviously, this information is not simple to deliver, but Baugh must take the initiative and give his honest medical advice. I, in turn, take this and do my best to show the audience a doctor that has the will power to deliver difficult news and still be a shoulder to lean on.”
“This production involves a southern accent, and in order to provide the audience with a realistic southern atmosphere, one must adopt the dialect and practice the accent until it flows like water. I, personally, have never done a main stage performance where an accent was necessary. It is a delightful challenge that helps you ‘become’ another person and expand the imagination of the audience.”
“This production is not merely a story about an alcoholic and his dying father, but about the family unit as a whole. Even though we may feel like the world is coming to an end and things could not get any worse, everyone still has family to rely on and help them get through it. One thing about the Politt Family is that they seem to have nothing but hatred for each other. But, in the end, they all unite to face Big Daddy’s cancer.”
“I am the stage manager for ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’ I take this job and the responsibilities that come with it very seriously. I am open to changing what needs to be changed and I try to get everyone to do their best.
“It’s my first time stage managing and it’s a main stage show, so it’s a little overwhelming, but really exciting.
“This is going to be a great show. Everyone’s working so hard at getting everything to the highest level possible. There is so much going on with this production that most people won’t even see, but is vital to the performance!”
“To tackle a play of this psychological complexity and maturity would be challenging even to a professional cast. After all, this play has gone through the capable hands of directors such as Elia Kazan, and actors such as Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, James Earl Jones, Jessica Lange, Burl Ives, Rip Torn and a host of others. Yet our group of CSC actors has risen to the occasion with extraordinary character work, honesty and bravery in the telling of this brutally honest story.”
“Our design team (Clint Wright and Scott Cavin) uses selected realism to create the Pollitt family mansion, showing us both the inside and exterior of the room simultaneously. The costume design by Shelby Wilson is spot on, creating the three generations of Pollitts present in the play.”
“It is the Theatre Program’s goal each year to present at least one production of lasting literary merit that has its rightful place in theatre history and has stood the test of time for audiences of today. Tennessee Williams’ ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ certainly fits that bill. The play is rated R for language, yet for those who love truly powerful theatre, this is one they won’t want to miss.”
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
April 16–19, 2009
Memorial Hall Auditorium
“My character is a suburban wife who is fighting an inner struggle about her feelings toward her husband and later her son. I try to show how much her character resents life because of her pain but that she also simply longs for her husband’s love.”
“This production is different from any I have been in here because it is so much more serious. It does have a few moments of comic relief but it needs that relief because it is so intense.”
“I think that a variety of people would very much enjoy the play. However, one does have to follow the story closely for it to make its full impact.”
“My character is Harry. Harry is a middle-aged alcoholic adulterer living in an unhappy marriage. He loves his son Isaac very much but doesn’t quite know how to show it. He also still loves his wife Nan but doesn’t realize it. He feels the need to have to understand whatever problems might come to him so he can fix them.”
“The most challenging part of this show is the emotional involvement required for the content of the play. There are no characters in the play that aren’t going through some kind of crisis, and that brings us all to a deeper emotional level.”
“People should know that this is not a story about a disgusting child molester; it’s a story about acceptance, morality and being there for your loved ones.”
“Delia is Harry’s secretary and also his fling. She really loves him and she not only wants him to love her back, but in a way she needs his love. At home she is treated poorly by her father and eventually runs away from him, so she can leave with Harry. Delia is a delicate and desperate character. When I play this character, I try to avoid focusing on her pitfalls and hardships because I want people to see that she is trying to continue living even though life hasn’t been the nicest to her.”
“This production is probably something that will be avoided by our community because of the content; when I first heard what it was about, I told myself that I didn’t want to be in it because I didn’t want to have everyone assume things about me and my beliefs. However, after I sat down and read the play, I realized that it brings up some really good sides to the problems encountered and it shows people how to see these unwanted topics differently and in a new light. I find it really challenging to get people to understand that it isn’t about the son and his problems at work, but it is really about the love story of a couple who has had downfalls, but eventually fall back in love.”
“I will play two characters in this play. The first, Dr. Elizabeth Hilton, is a psychologist who treated Isaac when he was 13 years of age. She is sophisticated and refuses to let anyone bully her or treat her less than she believes she should be treated. While Elizabeth seems as though she is real, she is often an outwardly spoken inner conflict with a character. She is seen arguing with Harry as he tries to blame her for his son’s ‘problem.’ She is also seen with Delia alone on a bench as Delia attempts to understand what to do with her life. With Dr. Hilton I want the audience to understand that she represents inner conflict and is often not really there, but inside the characters’ heads. In a sense, she says out loud what most only think to themselves.
“The second character I will play is Victor’s mother. Victor’s mother is the mother of a boy that was abused by Nan and Harry’s son, Isaac. Again it is important that the audience understand that Victor’s mother is not really there. She is instead the voice in Nan’s head while she sleeps. She represents Nan’s inner conflict over what her son Isaac has done and how she is handling it.”
“This is my first theatrical performance with Chadron State College so this is obviously going to be a challenge. Along with that this play involves a much smaller cast than usual. Otherwise I think it will be exciting to show the audience the true meaning of the play.”
“I think theatre goers need to read deeply into the play and look at the meaning of the play as a whole before judging. When first reading the script many of the performers were thrown off at some of the characters’ actions but after multiple readings it is evident that the play involves so much strength and perseverance on the part of each character. Other than that … I guess you’ll just have to see the production!”
The last two productions I directed, “Boy Gets Girl” and “The Shape of Things,” incorporated simple themes, so I had to just concentrate on communicating one goal/idea/story to our audience.
In “Beautiful Child” the story has one main theme but it can get lost so easily in Isaac's back story. He is such a powerful influence on the audience. This character’s actions are so horrendous that it is a challenge to pull the audience away from him and focus on Harry and Nan.
One challenge in this production is balancing the delicate subject matter with the characters’ absurdity and the comedy in which it is presented.
The characters in “Beautiful Child” move freely in time and space. One minute Harry and Nan are having an intense argument and the next minute they are talking directly to the audience trying to get them to see their points of view. The audience is presented with internal monologues and imaginary characters that only appear to select characters.
The biggest challenge is keeping the play’s action believable for the audience.
“Reckless” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” two of the plays the theatre department is producing this year, have the “mature” label attached to them because of language and suggestions of adult themes. In “Beautiful Child” the adult themes are not suggestions but a delicate part of the story. The audience is forced to be aware of Isaac’s actions and how they influence the actions of his mother, Nan, and father, Harry.
Theatre is not always pretty.
Theatre is not always comfortable.
Theatre is always thought provoking.
“I’m still trying to get all the details of my approach entirely worked out, but like all art, designing for the stage is just figuring out how to get your ideas flowing. Personally, when I start, I try to pick up on a play’s major themes and go as far to the extreme with those themes as I can. Then through various sketches and conversations with the director, actors and other designers I try to work backward from that extreme vantage point without destroying the idea it represents.”
“The real difference between this set and my previous design is actually due to a change in the way I think. I used to believe that in order for people to understand my design it had to completely and blatantly be there. The problem with that idea is it makes the set distracting and therefore less a part of the show. This set, and the ideas it embodies, while admittedly massive, is much more subtle than anything I’ve ever attempted. I believe this actually makes it more powerful as well as understandable/believable.”
“I think the most important thing for prospective students to know is that theatre as an art form is based on cooperation and compromise; nothing ‘just happens.’ Everything has hours upon hours put into it, and if you aren’t willing to work with the ideas of others then nothing happens. Without actors, there would be no theatre, this is true, but without designers/technicians the actors would be on stage with no set, naked … and it would also be completely dark.”
“With ‘RECKLESS’ … Mr. Lucas has given us a bittersweet Christmas fable for our time — ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ as it might be re-imagined for a bruising contemporary America in which homelessness may be a pervasive spiritual condition rather than a sociological crisis … ‘RECKLESS’ … has a simple emotional pull akin to that of a Crosby ballad born of the lonely World War II home front, it yanks us through every conceivable absurdist hoop, fracturing narrative, language and characterization on the way to its rending destination.” —The New York Times
Erika DeBoer of Mitchell, Neb., plays the central figure of Rachel. Forced to flee for her life from her house and family on Christmas Eve, Rachel is set adrift in time and space through an absurd world of TV shows, conspiring coworkers and endless psychiatrists as she seeks a place where it’s always Christmas. If “Reckless” is a reworking of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” then she is George Bailey.
“My role as Rachel is probably the most challenging I’ve never encountered because she is so optimistic and full of life. She is like a child, ever forgiving and hopeful. I have to tell myself day after day to quit reacting to these absurd events like anyone else would and to approach them with joy and sugar coat the consequences.”
“As far as this production goes, it is completely in the round with audience members completely surrounding us about five feet away. There is very little scenery and it's as if my character can’t keep up with her own life. I run from scene to scene, trying to ‘catch up’ with myself basically. Very interesting and different!”
“I think you need to approach the production the way we have had to as performers. You have to accept that this is an absurd play and to look at it differently from everyday life. I guess, prepare yourself for what kind of play you're going to. It’s a challenge but a fun one. Truthfully, no one wants to see everyday events anyway. This play is far from any of that!”
“For this show I’m playing three roles: Tom, Rachel’s husband who tries to have her killed. This role was the most fun because it’s high energy. Erika DeBoer (Rachel) and I had to work on timing because our lines run on top of each other. The next role I play is the man in the mask, this one is a blast because I get to play with a gun. And the final character is Tom Jr., Rachel’s son. This was weird because I had to have my own spin on Tom, but with Tom Jr., Roger Mays (professor of theatre) and I talked about putting some of Rachel’s characteristics in Tom Jr. to show the correlation between Tom Jr. and Rachel.”
“This production was interesting because of how short the scenes are. There are times when a scene is only half a page. This show is one of those weird ones that people will leave and know they saw something interesting, and might look at their loved ones in a different light.”
“To the prospective theatre students this is my last show and I’m still learning with every show. Because of the nature of this show and the different characters I have to play, my experience on stage is much broader.”
“My character’s name is Lloyd Bophtelophti, a man whose last name is nearly as complicated as his past. Lloyd is a character who constantly floats between the pleasures of his new life and the mistakes of his previous marriage. My approach to playing Lloyd was very simple … listen, and behave as truthfully as I possible could. Lloyd, as many characters in Reckless do, lives a double life. He is, simply put, an honest person with a dishonest past.”
“The most challenging aspect of this show is how we bounce around in time and space. Many of the scenes are only a page long, and some scenes are as short as five lines. An entire year can pass over the course of five pages of dialogue. This can be challenging at times, especially in terms of character development, because as an actor you cannot be certain of everything that has happened to this character throughout the course of the show, as you can with most plays.”
“To prospective theatre students I would have to say that my decision to attend Chadron State College has certainly not been something I regret. The education I am receiving especially through the theatre department has opened the doors for me to work in summer repertory theatre with some of the best young professionals in the country. The academics are also top notch and have allowed me to explore all aspects of theatre. The most important part is that we have all developed a sense of family within our program. I think this is very important when looking at what college you want to attend especially since theatre is a highly collaborative art. We are a tight knit group that creates amazing theatre … what more could you ask for?”
“My character in the show is Pooty. She is deaf and disabled and, like many in this show, has quite a few things to hide. This is a character very different from any that I have played. My approach to this role has been to communicate my emotions in my face and body as much as possible since I communicate through sign language. I have also tried very hard to accustom myself to moving naturally in a wheelchair. It has been a challenge that I wanted to be true to.”
“There are two things that make this show very interesting. First, the rules of time and space are often ignored. Our acting space is small and characters are often flowing in and out of scenes with no evident break between the two (such as a blackout or scene change). Second, the scenes are often quick and can jump anywhere from the next moment to numerous years. This allows the story to cover a lot.”
“The only thing I could tell prospective theater students and theater goers about this production is that it must be viewed with an open mind. The plot can often twist, characters are not who you think they are, and there is a surprise or two in store. Coming to this show eager to see something different will allow the viewer to really become a part of the show.”