June is an artist living in Alabaster, Alabama, with physical and emotional scars from the tornado that killed her family.
Alice has emotional scars from the loss of her partner and is trying to deal with the pain by creating a series of photos of women with physical scars.
And Weezy is a talking goat.
That quirkiness mixed with dark comedy and painful emotions is what drives “Alabaster,” the latest production from the Department of Theatre at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, it runs at 7:30 p.m. from Nov. 14-18 in the Dorothy Ward Hackett Theatre in the Fine Arts Center.
“It’s kind of like when we say, ‘Art heals.’ The play kind of talks about ‘How does that work?’ and ‘What does it mean?’ The scars that we don’t see are just as valid as the ones we do see,” said UTC Professor Gaye Jeffers, who is directing “Alabaster.”
Yes, having a talking goat is weird, Jeffers said, but Weezy has a special, important part in the play.
“She can make things happen in the world, and I think she’s an ultimate healer in some way,” Jeffers said. “She can walk through walls; she can talk like us. She says at the very beginning of the play, ‘I’m a goat and I know I’m a goat.’”
Nancy Tillman, a senior majoring in theater who plays Weezy, said performing as a goat “is not a part of my career that I could have ever predicted.”
Weezy’s ability to speak, though, makes her less like an animal and more like a human, she said.
“In this way, there is a lot about playing a goat that is actually proving to be quite similar to playing a human. I will say, pretending to be a goat is more fun,” said Tillman, a native of Franklin, Tennessee.
Playing Jane is a challenge because of the character’s complexity as a person, said Maegan Whitlock, a senior from Nolensville, Tennessee, who’s majoring in theater.
“Her trauma is unimaginable to someone like me, and trying to get into that headspace and understand how she feels really is intense,” Whitlock said. “In many scenes, she explains her pain and, as we go through the process of rehearsals each day, I feel for her more and more.”
Jane’s emotions are mercurial and can shift without warning, Whitlock said.
“She is feisty and timid and feels trapped in her own head. When situations arise where June becomes angry or something sets her off, she can lash out and try to hurt whoever is hurting her.”
Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students (with proof of student ID) and seniors. They can be purchased online by clicking here and through the UTC Box Office in person or by phone (423-425-4369).
For more information, visit the UTC Theatre webpage.
- Maegan Whitlock (senior, Nolensville, Tennessee)
- Calista Geralds (junior, Chattanooga)
- Nancy Tillman (senior, Franklin, Tennessee)
- Karlee Ming Jamieson (sophomore, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
- MegAnn Brotzman (senior, Franklin, Tennessee)
- Katie Mullins (sophomore, Antioch, Tennessee)
- Chava Foutch (sophomore, Maryville, Tennessee)
Scenic design: Emma Hoffbauer, visiting assistant professor
Lighting design and technical direction: Alex Miller-Long, assistant professor
Costume design: Taylor Busch, visiting lecturer
Projections design: Crissy Varnell, UTC theatre alumna
Sound design: Myrik Dunham (junior, Chapel Hill, Tennessee)