Cue the lights.
The audience hushes and the lights reveal the scene of a local diner in Kansas City, Mo. There’s a mid-March snowstorm outside that causes a routine bus to stop and allow its passengers to catch some warmth while the interstate clears.
Here, the audience meets a troupe of characters – from the local sheriff and diner workers, to the various passengers on the bus. All gathered under one roof to work out their issues with love and loneliness.
The USD theatre department captures the essence of this 1955 play by William Inge after months of preparation in their production of “Bus Stop.”
Timothy Pyles, coordinator of the theatre department and director of the production, described the play as relatable to everyone in some way or another.
“In some ways it’s a love song to America, to the Midwest,” he said. “It’s a very American-type story.”
The production has about 30 students participating, ranging from roles in the play itself, to stage design and the technical crew.
The production has served as a learning opportunity for each of the students to further their craft in theater.
Nathaniel Vogel, a senior in the department, plays the character of Will Master, the sheriff of the town.
Vogel, who had to grow a mustache for the production amongst other preparations, said the play is worth seeing because of its plot connections to everyday life.
“I like the honesty and the humanity (of the play). Everyone are real people and you just get to see a whole side of them,” Vogel said. “It’s a story about love and there are many characters who are trying to get that love all in one night.”
The audience will also meet characters such as Dr. Gerald Lyman, a passenger on the bus. This professor of philosophy serves as a comical relief, but in the end he is lonely and loveless.
Senior Nick Manthe portrays the professor, and said his character is dynamic. In preparing for him, Manthe had to do a little research to understand certain historical references and to capture the essence of the quirky professor.
“He is kind of a tragic character. He is happy on the surface but sort of depressed on the inside,” Manthe said.
The play opened Sept. 25 and will run through the weekend. Students interested in seeing the performance have the opportunity to do so Wednesday, Sept. 30 through Oct. 3rd with showtime at 7:30 p.m. A matinee show is set for Sunday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students at the door.
Pyles said students should attend the production because of the relatable themes in the play.
“I hope it’s encouraging,” he said. “I think it’s a play about our struggle with loneliness and the possibility of love and change.”
(Photo: The USD theatre department performed “Bus Stop” this weekend. The 1955 play tells of many characters fighting for love and loneliness. The production continues this week. Katie McGuire / The Volante)