Baltimore Waltz’ doesn’t dance around life issues

Baltimore Waltz doesnt dance around life issues

by Kelsey Christianson

Theatre Simpson is preparing to put on a psychologicallyintriguing play this fall.

“The Baltimore Waltz” was written by Pulitzer Prize-winningauthor Paula Vogel. Vogel based this play on her brother, Carl, whodied from AIDS in the late 1980s.

Director Jennifer Nostrala enjoys Vogel’s work as aplaywright.

“She constructs fantasy and reality simultaneously, which iswhat theater is all about,” Nostrala said. “It is about dying andit is about life. Specifically it is about a brother and a sister,one who has a fatal illness.”

This play deals with the harsh reality of HIV and AIDS. Althougheveryone in the audience may not be able to personally relate tothe disease, everyone should be able to take away somethingvaluable.

“It is a play about how we deal with losing someone important tous,” Nostrala said. “I find it to be a beautiful play that takesthe audience through a series of different emotional responses.Also, the play deals with issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, so it is avery relevant topic.”

The play features three actors, all of whom areunderclassmen.

“We have opportunities for students as soon as they walk oncampus,” Nostrala said. “We cast based on who we think will do thepart well, not on how long they have been on campus.”

Freshman Jonathan Feld is looking forward to his on-stage debutat Simpson.

“[My character] Carl can be described as your all-around typicalnice guy,” Feld said. “I see myself and Carl easily having many ofthe same traits, such as compassion for the arts and human beings.He is also extremely smart, knowing six languages, and heunderstands much about European history and the people.”

Sophomore Julie Soukup plays Carl’s sister, Anna.

“Anna is a 30-year-old first-grade school teacher.,” Soukupsaid. “When she finds out about Carl’s diagnosis, she takes on theillness and tries to keep him alive as long as possible by takinghim on an imaginary trip.”

Sophomore Justin Davis is the third actor. He plays 13characters over the course of the play.

“My characters range from a simple doctor to a Little Dutch Boyat age 50,” Davis said. “As Anna and Carl progress through amagical journey to Europe, I play the characters that theyencounter.”

Vogel used several different languages when she wrote this play,as well as some made-up words.

“The play is a language lesson,” Soukup said. “We worked a lotwith the German and French professors on the pronunciations.”

As can be imagined, preparing to portray his 13 characterswasn’t easy for Davis.

“Not only did I have to learn three new dialects: German, Dutch,and French, I had to learn each character individually,” Davissaid. “I spent a lot of time watching old films and just developingeach character one by one.”

Davis is pleased with the way the production is comingtogether.

“This show is unlike any show you’ve ever seen,” Davis said.”The staging and the space in which the show is put on in is justamazing. Jennifer Nostrala has such an elaborate mind, and the workshe has put together not only in the scenery but in the acting andstaging of this play is pure art.”

The cast believes everyone in the audience will be able torelate to their characters in some way.

“I believe everyone has someone in their lives that they woulddo anything they could to make that person happy and feel loved,”Feld said. “There’s too much in this world to love and cherish thanto judge and hate.”

Davis’s goal will be fulfilled if just one person in theaudience is touched, and he believes the play can affect a collegecrowd.

“There’s urine drinking, sex and violence,” Davis said. “I thinkanyone who is a college student can relate to the craziness andup-and-down feelings this play gives you. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that will take you for a journey you’ll never forget.”

Soukup believes “The Baltimore Waltz” has depth as aproduction.

“Not everybody has a brother that has died or will die in thenear future,” Soukup said. “But in one way or another, all canconnect to one of the three characters.”

According to Soukup, some knowledge of the play would helpbefore attending.

“I think it’s one of those plays where you need to see it twicein order to really understand it,” Soukup said. “There are 30scenes. It moves really fast, and there is no intermission. There’sdefinite symbolism.”

“The Baltimore Waltz” opens on Friday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m.Other showings include Saturday, Oct. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 31 at7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. andSunday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. in Barnum Studio Theatre.