On Oct. 10-13, the Wittenberg Theater Department showcased a production of “Six Degrees of Separation,” a play written by John Guare. Wittenberg’s show had a fantastic cast, starring Sarah Van Deusen, Carl Burgason, and Aaron B. Glen as Ouisa, Flan, and Paul (respectively).
The show starts out in a panic, with Ouisa and Flan freaking out because they are afraid that something has been stolen from their home. They break the fourth wall of theater to talk to the audience directly. They begin to tell the story of the night before, comically explaining to the audience why they are so frightened.
Flan is an art dealer and the pair are part of the high class society. Flan and Ouisa were trying to get a deal with a man named Geoffrey about a piece of Cezanne art – $2 million was on the line. In the middle of the couple trying to impress Geoffrey, the doorman helps in an injured young man – Paul. They help to bandage him and get him into something clean – their son’s pink shirt. Paul helps to land them the art deal, and later, they realize that he has hustled them. In a rage, they kick him out. The rest of the play follows the struggle to find Paul and bring him to justice.
Van Deusen, sophomore, loved playing Ouisa. She described her role as “challenging, of course, but that made it more positive of an experience.” She had troubles at first relating to her character, but was able to find ways to connect.
“As the rehearsal process went forward, I found the human qualities I can relate to. She becomes aware of the social responsibility she has. Her compassion and empathy for Paul were something I can relate to,” said Van Deusen.
Nick Pashoian, freshman, played Woody, Ouisa’s son. His character is centralized around a monologue concerning the pink shirt his parents gave to Paul to wear after he was bandaged. “There are times where Woody is more concerned about himself,” Pashoian describes his role. “He’s so selfish, and that’s what I don’t want to be.”
Pashoian was one of the only two freshmen in the show and was thrilled to be in the production. “I’ve definitely learned a lot from the theater program. I’ve definitely met a lot of new people and new friends. The play means a lot to me because it’s my first play in college, and I didn’t think I’d get the part. I’m so thankful I got it.”
Van Deusen is also very appreciative for her casting. “This was a big growing time for me. I’m so grateful that Steve Reynolds saw something in me and I was happy and humbled.” She also added, “the cast gets along beautifully. I’m happy to work with these actors everyday. It’s a blessing. Also, our stage manager and assistant stage manager have been so helpful. They’re in thankless roles, so I like to give them a shout out.”
The play was directed by one of Wittenberg’s beloved retired theater professors, Dr. Reynolds.
“I was honored and excited to be asked back,” Reynolds stated. “Even though I retired from teaching in 2012, I knew I wanted to continue to direct plays. It is my passion. I was especially happy to come back and work with the terrific theater students who are here right now. I thought Six Degree was the right show to do for them and the Wittenberg community. I hope I was right about that.”