Slice of Sibling Life Comes to Little Theater
a night when two sisters, Jamie and Jo, come down with a strange
case of sleeplessness, and events take a turn for the surreal. Jamie
is trying to sleep when Jo comes in and starts banging around, making
lots of lovely farting noises, jumping on the bed, playing a gorgeous
Con-like trombone in a very un-Con-like manner and doing everything
within her power to awaken the deeply slumbering Jamie.
So begins Senior Josephine Stewart’s senior-project-production,
The Last Nickel, going up Thursday night in The Little Theater.
The opening scene continues as Jo succeeds in waking Jamie with
said trombone. Thus ensues a crazily familiar scene of one tired,
irritated sibling trying to rid herself of the other ever-annoyingly-cheerful
presence of a would-be-roommate.
You could have recorded a scene between any two teenage siblings
and cut and pasted it into the show and not a thing would change.
The bickering, bantering and shoving each other around the room
and dancing to oldies was incredibly authentic. You would have thought
the two girls had, in fact, grown up together, or at least have
spent the last four years together.
Think again: sophomore Jessica Bedwinek and Josephine Stewart, who
play Jamie and Jo , hadn’t really even talked before auditions.
But in the last few weeks, they have bonded quickly, sharing similar
past experiences that they have ended up acting out onstage, They
have also created their own new experiences together, including
acquiring flaming red hair.
“They know more about each other than anybody else can or
ever will,” senior director Ben Stuber, said, explaining the
reason for the double role-playing. “Playing both roles you
know more about them singly than you would by just playing one.
You get a line into their shared experience and can be that much
more deeply connected with them.”
Stuber also emphasized that this is one of the most collaborative
shows he’s ever worked on. “My role as a director has
not been ‘Do this.’”
However, Stuber contradicted his statement once, directing the play’s
puppets, a weird and often ridiculous addition, to, “Go have
fun.” This they did, and continued to do, even during the
“It’s hard,” said Junior Tom Taylor when asked
about the puppeteering experience. “The puppet is in the scene…not
me. I had to learn not to make facial expressions.” Christa
Henderson joined Taylor in bringing the puppets to life.
The cast members are unanimous in their praises of Stuber and each
“He worked one-on-one with us,” Senior Josephine Stewart
said. Other cast members also said they enjoyed working individually
with the director and with each other. Many found the intense rehearsals
to be the high point of their day. They found release in the comfortable,
natural, encouraging and open environment had been created in the
short time The Last Nickel had to rehearse.
It was an environment where you could, according to Stuber, “be
real in a way you can’t always be.”
The phrase “bond or burn out” came up more than once
and as they jumped on top of one another (literally…) it was
obvious the crew had done anything but burn out. Their close connection
is due, in part, to the intensive rehearsal schedule that the crew
said made them “give up” their lives. But another is
an intentional nurturing of relationships, which oddly enough is
one of the most important themes portrayed onstage, and it showed
It may very well be. But as Stuber told me, it’s “simple,
like a comic,” which means you can “pour a whole lot
into it: intention, character, emotion,” and puppets too!
And while the story is simple, it’s fundamental theme of caring
for another person speaks to us all.
Last Nickel, Hall Auditorium: Little Theater, Friday and Saturday
at 8 PM, Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets availabe through CTS: $3 OCID,
$5 other, $2 more at the door.