UNO Theatre Presents: The Clearing by Helen Edmundson


Kimberly Gau

When faced with life or death, decisions about love and loyalty suddenly become challenging. This is the reality for the characters in UNO Theatre’s “The Clearing.”

UNO Theatre’s 2018-19 season kicked off on Sept. 26 with the first performance of “The Clearing.” This production involves a dramatic storyline packed with love, loyalty and loss. “The Clearing” is the first of four productions UNO Theatre will showcase this year. This season features productions exclusively by female playwrights.

With the combination of raw talent and impressive technical elements, “The Clearing” is more of an experience than a show. The audience is able to become emotionally invested in the characters as they face unspeakable challenges and life-threatening choices.

“The Clearing” is unique because it urges the audience to reflect on themselves. The characters in this play find themselves facing unimaginable decisions – which makes the audience question, “What would I do?” As the audience tries to identify with the characters they become captivated by the plot.

“Anybody can relate to conflict that is based out of love,” said Jessica Johnson, who plays the role of Madeleine. As the performance progresses the concepts of love and loyalty evolve along with the characters.

Lara Marsh is directing UNO Theatre’s “The Clearing” as her Master’s thesis project. She chose this production for a multitude of reasons. Marsh was attracted to “The Clearing” because it is a heavy-context drama. It also presents actual conflicts society faced. “That’s what this play does; it brings to light some social issues and dynamics of the time period it’s set in.” Marsh said.

These social issues cause the audience to think about the society we live in today. Comparisons can be made between what problems that arise in the production and what is occurring in our modern society. That is what made “The Clearing” relevant and intriguing for Marsh.

Marsh has dedicated over a year to this production. She has done everything from researching the history of Ireland to studying the various dialects within the production. Marsh even traveled to England where she extended her research with a visit to the Cromwell Museum. She oversees every aspect of this production, down to each light and sound.

The ten cast members have also dedicated an enormous amount of time to this production. Freshman Aaron Sorilla and senior Daniel Keller spend four to five hours a day, six days a week working on the performance. “It’s really kind of a full-time job,” said Sorilla, who plays the role of the soldier/sailor.

Apart from scheduled rehearsals and group exercises, cast members spend time outside the theater memorizing the script, mastering delivery and fostering relations amongst one another. By spending time together on and off the stage, the cast members strengthened their connections with each other.

“You have to create those relationships authentically in order to portray them authentically,” said Keller, who plays the role of Pierce. This is essential for “The Clearing” because the characters have so many layers to their relationships.

This production does an outstanding job capturing the emotional struggles and conflicts occurring in Ireland in the 1600s. These social issues pose many questions for the audience about our modern world. “I hope this play impacts audience members in truly thinking more about today’s dynamic,” Marsh said. “The Clearing” makes the audience go a step further, pondering how they can truly relate to the show.

Upcoming dates for the production include Wednesday, Oct. 3; Thursday, Oct. 4; Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday Oct. 6. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Weber Fine Arts Building on Dodge Campus. Productions are free for students with a MavCard and $16 for general admission.