In a time where dramatic theatre may be considered a dying art, senior theatre major Ian Page is breathing new life into it with his original play “No Loitering” – self-directed and premiering in the Richard Newdick Theater this Friday at 8 p.m.
Page, who is also a creative writing minor, devised the show as part of an elective independent study.
“I’ve had the plot and everything in my head … I needed something to make me really be committed to this,” he said. The fruit of his independent study is a full-length play, running about an hour and a half and performed by students he hand-picked for the roles.
“No Loitering” is a dark comedy about two brothers, Keith and Daniel – played by sophomore theatre performance major Dylan Rzepka and senior theatre performance major Eban Kuhns, respectively – who try to market a computer project that the younger brother, Daniel, has been working on. Both brothers live in a New York apartment together, trying to deal with girlfriends (played by senior theatre performance majors Virginia Fields and Ashley Keeter), drugs and each other.
“I didn’t really have auditions for this show ’cause I kind of had in my mind who I wanted,” Page said of his completely upperclassmen cast. Knowing most of the cast for years, all he had was a read-through to confirm his assumptions and offered the students their parts. His play wasn’t completed at the time of SALT proposals last semester, but was finished in time for rehearsal periods.
While the writing for the first act of the play went mostly fine, the second act takes a more serious tone and was the most trouble to finish. “I had everything planned out (for) the first act, (but) the second act I had to fix everything that just happened in the first,” Page said. Regardless, the show was ready for rehearsals with some professional guidance.
Rzepka, who plays Keith (described by Rzepka as “a loveable pothead”) sees the play as a dark comedy, he admits that it is a bit light hearted and likened it to “Pineapple Express” or “Knocked Up” – something that is “a dark comedy but also light.”
Keith’s girlfriend, Katie, (played by Fields) is a go-with-the-flow, down-to-earth girl who stirs up trouble in the play.
Fields is glad for the role, as she feels that “sometimes (she) get(s) typecast as the cheerful little, happy comedic relief and it (is) nice to do something opposite.” As her last performance with Theatre VCU before working in the summer and moving to Los Angeles, Fields is elated that this is her last.
Keith’s little brother Daniel has “a left-brained rationality” as described by his actor, Eban Kuhns. Kuhns worked with Page as he developed the play and said, ” It’s nice to see the process” of how one develops and conveys a character to be presented on stage.”
Kuhns describes the play as a sort-of sitcom, with a natural rhythm and pace.
The last member of the cast, Keeter, portrays two characters: Daniel’s girlfriend, Leslie, and the male drug dealer next-door, Rodney.
Page said he thinks his show is different from the other shows that have been part of the SALT season. To him, “No Loitering” means “standing around and doing nothing,” a bold message that is much different from the rest of SALT shows.
For Page, this is also his last to-do at VCU – aside from the bi-weekly variety show “No Shame” at the Shafer Street Playhouse. Page said that he will be spending the rest of his time in Richmond between writing and acting.
“No Loitering” closes on Saturday, April 23 after a 3 p.m. matinee and 8 p.m. evening show.