OA: Stone in Pocket FEbruary 06, 2009

Mesa State College’s Black Box delivers play in the Moss Performing Arts Center

From Left Mesa State actors Nicholas Witham and Jesse Lee Keeter.

The stage is mostly bare except for a trunk. Costumes are minimal: a jacket with sleeves a little too short, pants held up with suspenders.

There’s little to distract the imagination.

The spotlight in “Stones in His Pockets” is literally and figuratively on the only two actors,
Nicholas Witham and Jesse Lee Keeter, acting and direction majors at Mesa State College.

The two-man play continues at the college in the 100-seat Mesa Experimental Theatre with performances Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6–7.

“Stones in His Pockets,” a drama/comedy by Marie Jones, is set in a small village in Ireland, the filming site for a major Hollywood movie. Many of the town locals play extras.

Witham and Keeter transition through some eight characters each — men, women, young and old. To play each character, the actors switch accents and mannerisms. There are no major costume changes.

At one point, Keeter plays Caroline, a seductive actress who readily uses her celebrity and looks to get what she wants.

One of Witham’s characters is a 20-something female assistant to the director, who is on a power trip.

There were 35 students who tried out for the two parts, said Richard Cowden, director and head of the theater department. The play is popular not only because of the challenge it poses, but because it is both funny and sad in many of the scenes, he said.

“I’ve learned so much in this one little experience,” Keeter said.

“It’s really rewarding,” Witham said.

Much of the actors’ time preparing for the play has been put into character development and acting technique. They discussed how posture defines a character and what adjectives they’d use to describe them.

Cowden said he has wanted the college to produce this play ever since he saw it on Broadway. It wasn’t until recently that the rights became available.

“You won’t see anything this inventive for years,” according to a theater department news release.


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