Second Studio, Southern Utah University’s student-led theatre group, will be putting on their first shows of the 2022-23 season. “The White Liars” and “Black Comedy,” written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Kolton Nielsen and Jeremy Allen, will be performed in the Black Box Theatre in the Auditorium Oct. 27-29 at 7 p.m. There will be an additional matinee performance on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m. Following Thursday’s performance, an Austin Powers-themed opening night gala will be held in the Auditorium lobby.
“The White Liars” and “Black Comedy” are two one-act plays that are often performed in rep with one another. When shows are performed in rep, it means that two or more shows are being performed alongside one another.
“Our rep shows take place in one night,” said Nielsen, Second Studio’s artistic director. “‘White Liars’ is going to be in the first half, then we have an intermission and ‘Black Comedy’ afterwards.”
“The White Liars” follows a fortune teller named Sophie as she receives two customers, a businessman and a rockstar, causing shenanigans to ensue and important questions to be raised.
“Where’s the line between lying about yourself and just going along with someone else’s lie? How does not seeing the world as it is affect you on an emotional level?” said “White Liars” stage manager Nash Kenning-Ballesteros.
“Black Comedy” tells the story of an aspiring sculptor who plans to steal his neighbor’s furniture in order to impress an art collector and his fiancee’s father.
“It covers the journey that the characters take as the power goes out and the truth comes to light,” said “Black Comedy” stage manager Ro Christiansen.
“Black Comedy” also plays with the contrast between light and darkness.
“It’s a farce that reverses light for darkness. So, when it’s light in the scene, it’s dark on the stage, and when it’s dark in the scene, it’s light on stage,” said Conner Foley, who plays Schuppanzigh in “Black Comedy.”
Each director took a different approach to directing and putting their shows together while maintaining the common themes between the two shows.
“It was interesting to see how it all played out and how it relates to the work that I was doing in ‘Black Comedy,’” said Allen.
Both shows rehearsed separately for weeks before uniting the week of performances during technical rehearsals. Many cast and crew members on the shows did not see what the other group was working on until the shows came together.
“Doing both shows has been interesting because we would see them coming out of rehearsal when we would be going in,” said Grace Powers, who plays Sophie in “White Liars.” “Finally watching [“Black Comedy”] has been really fun because I had never seen it.”
Both “White Liars” and “Black Comedy” are comedy shows, with “Black Comedy” being more slapstick.
“My favorite part was exploring a lot of the comedic aspects of slapstick, the British humor and the dialogue. It’s been really fun to have my actors explore what is funny and how to make it fun,” said Allen.
On the other hand, “White Liars” is more serious while still maintaining the comedic elements that tie the shows together.
“It’s a lot about deception and love and, honestly, a lot about identity and how fluid identity can be and how we present ourselves to others,” said Nielsen.
Tickets for “The White Liars” and “Black Comedy” can be purchased before the show at the Auditorium ticket office for $5. Only one ticket is needed to see both shows. For more information, follow Second Studio on Instagram.
Article by: Tessa Cheshire
Photos courtesy of Second Studio