The Dining Room

Brooke Adams, Jr. Managing Editor

This October, the Allen theatre program put on “The Dining Room,” a play dedicated to capturing major events that occurred in the same room over the period of multiple centuries.

Although not cohesive like most plays Allen has shown, “The Dining Room” contained short, meaningful scenes that made the play heartfelt, according to actor Hayden King.

“The overall message is that, throughout history and our lives, everybody has some sort of experience in the dining room,” director Carrie Howell said. “It could be anything, such as the old-fashioned dinner together, folding your laundry at the dining room table or, doing some kind of paper.”

Since this style of play was unfamiliar to those in the theater program, King said it put a new kind of pressure on the actors to make the play flow and make the characters appear as real people, which didn’t happen until the last minute.   

“It was hard to practice while we weren’t actively on stage in the rehearsal process,” actress Marie Peteuil said. “We needed to really get the bonding experience because all these characters are very real characters that all have very interesting relationships, so we had to try and make those relationships seem more real.”

However, despite this play having slightly different aspects than what Allen has done before, the rehearsal process was just as rigorous as any other production.

“Rehearsal was pretty much Monday through Thursday, 4 to 6 o’clock,” Howell said. “It was about five weeks of that and then the last week is more intense, later nights just to get it ready.”

According to Peteuil, preparation for the play began as soon as they were cast for their roles and the audition process ended.

“You start out with a rehearsal, and then you have what’s called a tech week,” Peteuil said. “That’s when they start bringing in all the technical elements, such your lights, and your sound. We then start working with our set, props, and costumes, because that is a very integral part of our show.”

Peteuil explained this intense preparation was necessary for this play in particular, because of how real the topics and the characters were supposed to be due to the show’s complexity.

“We have table talk, which is talking through characters and what their motivation is,” Howell said. “Then we get up and just start blocking it out, which basically is running through the lines and trying to figure out where the placement of people needs to be. While it imitates life, we have to be aware of the fact that we’re preparing to show it to an audience.”

However, according to Howell, the play could have not come together without the hard work of the actors, putting their time in to make the play seem as real as it was supposed to.

“It always amazes me the spirit and determination of the actors, that even those days where you think it’s not going to happen and there’s no way, they take ownership of it and they bring it to life,” Howell said. “As a director and as a teacher, that’s very encouraging to know that they will commit and make it come to life even on those days when you think it’s not gonna happen.”

The performances that took place on October 18 and 20 were labeled a success by actors and directors alike, and King said the play turned out as even more than just watchable, as Howell believed they really captured the spirit of “The Dining Room.”

“The scenes are not necessarily connected, but they’re connected by the spirit of the dining room,” Howell said. “The play, the message and the spirit of it is that common thread of humanity that we all experience and have similar experiences with the dining room.”