Journey to 'The Other Shore'
"God a?" maybe there isn"t a God after all, maybe there"s only a universe rotating by itself like a millstone""
"The Other Shore" by Xingjian Gao isn"t just about a plot on a stage. It"s a story that could be set anywhere, as the playwright suggests in the stage directions, "a theatre, a living room, a rehearsal room," with actors "among the audience, or the audience among the actors."
It"s inconsequential. What matters, is what the audience brings home. It"s a sentiment Appalachian State University"s student actors, actors like senior Anneliese Moffit, reciprocate.
"It"s going to challenge people who look at it to really think about their place in society," she said. "It"s a lot about the push and pull between following your own path and the safety and comfort of staying with the community and the group."
Actors, piled on stage in one scene, literally feel the pull, awakening into a reality where they have to find their identities.
An ensemble show, "The Other Shore" employs a simplistic set in comparison with many ASU productions. Think platforms and simplistic colors. The play, however, is anything but simplistic, senior cast member Brett Stafford said.
"It"s meant to sort of take everybody and give everybody a look into a mirror," he said.
Sophomore Victor Rivera plays "the man," the "everyman" character on a journey to self discovery.
"The man is like a representation of the average person, the average theater goer, and it"s his journey throughout the life cycles, from rebirth to enlightenment and the struggles and the sweeter parts of life," he said.
And he can"t wait to see what meaning the audience members get out of the play as they take a trip to "The Other Shore."
""The Other Shore" is thoughts not yet thought of," Rivera said. "It"s the grass is greener on the other side, like, you don"t realize until you"re at the other shore that you were at the other shore. Is this making sense?"
The show"s director, professor Kin-Yan Szeto, thinks it will make sense, and is confident the show will do more than entertain. It will provoke a relevant discussion.
""The Other Shore" is based on the Buddhist concept of enlightenment " I thought it would be really exciting to engage the students in a production in something they are not familiar with but that they would be interested to explore," she said.
And it"s particularly relevant in a world where everyone is connected, through social networking, e-mail, and texts.
"These days we use a lot of digital media," Szeto said. "We can be interconnected with someone across the globe in just a second. To live in the moment. It"s something that happens every day. So, I asked my students to be thinking about " being mindful of what you are experiencing " get your sense of the way you can find your own self, even as an individual or even if you are part of a group."
"The Other Shore" hits Appalachian State University"s Valborg Theatre Feb. 23-26. Tickets are available at the Valborg box office by calling (828) 262-3063.