‘BUTTER’ Food for Thought
The show opens in an office; the asymmetrical design of the set frames the action, pulling your attention into the stage. But the set is not the only thing that draws you in. The play’s very first scene brings up the very sensitive subject of ethnic identity. As the play progresses you notice that a lot of the dialogue is between two characters or small groups, giving the scenes a very personal, realistic feel. This intimacy makes the audience feel more included, while at once putting them more on edge as they find themselves ringside for the prickly, thought-provoking debate of the play.
Spinning Into Butter by Rebecca Gilman takes place in a small college located in Vermont. The college population contains very few minorities. So when one of those students begins receiving harassing, racially-tinged notes, the faculty is prompted to take action. This forces them to handle the extremely sensitive issue that the race question presents while addressing their own feelings on race at the same time.
Kaitlin Clarke, a senior Theatre major, plays the main character Sarah Daniels, Dean of Students at the fictional Belmont College.
“Sarah genuinely wants to do right by the students and has their best interests at heart,” Clarke said. “While she may have a desire to help people, Sarah has an unwavering outlook on people that aren’t like her.”
Clarke finds the role of Sarah a challenging one due to the fact she does not share the same feelings as her character, but she hopes the role can give the audience something from which to learn.
“After working and finding the different facets of Sarah, I think and hope all audience members will at some points really dislike Sarah but at the same time see a little bit of themselves in her,” Clarke said. “I really think that audience members will walk out of the theatre wanting to be better than these characters.”
The production has been designated a Scholar-Citizen event. In line with that initiative, it provides an opportunity for reflection and discussion on the important issues of collective and individual feelings about racial/cultural differences. To facilitate this dialogue, two events connected with the production have been planned.
- A talkback moderated by RU Associate Professor of Theatre Jennifer Juul will follow the October 5th opening performance.
- RU’s Director of Diversity and Equity, Brooke Chang will head a discussion featuring a panel of student leaders following the October 11th performance. This night has also been designated University 100 Night.
Spinning Into Butter will be onstage October 5-6, 11-13, at 8 pm and October 14, at 2 pm at Pridemore Playhouse. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for RU faculty and staff, and free to students with RU ID. Tickets are now available at the Porterfield Box Office or by calling (540) 831-5289. Please note - Tickets for performances of Spinning Into Butter occurring over Homecoming & Reunion/Family Weekend are available online and at the Hurlburt Student Center Information Desk (540-831-5420).
The Radford University Arts Society is also sponsoring “Curtain Up!” A Special Evening of Theatre on Friday, October 12. This special event includes cocktails, dinner, and a behind-the-scenes look at the production by Spinning Into Butter Director Wesley Young and Carl Lefko, Director of the School of Dance & Theatre. Tickets are $65 per person and include tickets to the play. For more information or to purchase tickets for “Curtain Up!” contact Kathleen Harshberger at 540-239-4999.
—College of Visual & Performing Arts, Radford University