This weekend will see the premiere of “Day Father,” the student?written fall major production for Pen, Paint and Pretzels, Tufts’ umbrella theater group. The drama looks to complement themes seen in other Tufts productions this semester, such as “Our Private Lives,” and to set itself apart through its exploration of memory and morally ambiguous characters.
“Day Father” is directed by Junior Cole von Glahn, a drama major who has already been the lead or director for other Tufts productions. Von Glahn said that he started to become more attracted to directing than acting when he was in high school. He began to explore text analysis and how that affected the presentation of plays.
“It has to feel like writing a song or any of these other creation?based arts,” he said. “It’s just a lot of fun to take something in front of you and morph it and change it and think about ways other people have done it and mess with it yourself.”
Von Glahn went on to describe the process that led to the premiere of “Day Father” later this week: the play was first workshopped by senior playwright Lindsay Carpenter last year through Bare Bodkin, Tufts’ experimental theater group. Carpenter later approached von Glahn to see if he would be interested in proposing the play as the 3Ps’ major production for fall 2012. After the proposal was successful, von Glahn spent the summer doing prep work and research for the production.
“Day Father” centers on the family of Anna (Leah Bastacky), a young girl living with her parents who are referred to as Mother (Imogen Browder) and Father (Drew Page). The family, originally from a small farming village, decides to move to the city in order to pursue Mother’s artistic aspirations, but this does not work out as planned. The tension rises and Mother begins an affair with a man named Z (Artoun Festekjian) and starts to treat him like a second father for Anna. Anna considers him to be her “day father,” which leads to the title of the show. Von Glahn said that the show explores what it is like for Anna to grow up thinking that having two fathers is normal, and the play follows her from when she is five to 16 years old.
The memory aspect of the drama comes into play with Jason (Max Greenhouse), a character with an unknown connection to the family whose narration frames the show. Von Glahn said that the audience is essentially viewing Jason’s memories, and that this informs a lot of the design decisions for the show.
“I love memory pieces. I think memory is a really fun thing to put on stage because you’re giving such an abstract concept a very concrete definition,” said von Glahn. “You’re able to watch someone’s memory, which is not something you get to do [normally]. So I think it provides a lot of opportunity for really complex design … everyone’s done a really good job of finding artistic ways to represent things as though we were seeing a memory.”
These various aspects of the show are brought to life by the five?person cast of “Day Father,” which spans freshmen working on their first Tufts production to senior Leah Bastacky. Exploring the characters of “Day Father” was a highlight for the cast, though Bastacky said that playing Anna at different ages was both rewarding and challenging.
“From an acting perspective it’s … probably the most challenging role I’ve played in a long time, and it’s really cool because, [since] it’s the world premiere, we’re able to create these characters and infuse them with who we think they are,” said freshman Imogen Browder.
Von Glahn hopes the characters’ moral ambiguity will challenge the audience, making it difficult to identify their motivations. Von Glahn also thinks that the play will provide an interesting look at how people construct their own realities, as most characters’ ideals are rarely realized. All of these aspects combine to make “Day Father” an evocative piece.
The show is running in Balch Arena Theatre at the Aidekman Arts Center from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the Balch Arena Box Office or by calling 617?627?3493.