University Theatre’s production of the show SIN is currently in rehearsals at The Rafters Theatre. The play, by Wendy Macleod, is set in San Francisco during 1989. The events of the story occur before and immediately after the San Francisco Earthquake. The story revolves around a woman named Avery who feels like she is on a higher level than everyone else, literally; Avery works as an air traffic controller. Each of the figures in Avery’s life represent one of the seven deadly sins, which include greed, wrath, envy and gluttony. In the first half of the play, Avery chooses to see the individuals in their life purely by their sins and faults, but in the second act, as Avery starts to come down to earth, they are seen in a more human light. Although this play may sound serious, it is very much a comedy, and one with much truth.
Although, many of the characters represent the seven deadly sins, the actors themselves have already been working on making their characters complex individuals that transcend their sins.
Nikki Schwartz, who plays Avery’s gluttonous friend, Helen says that in order to make the characters real “you have to think outside the sin, and although their sins are a large part of who each character is, they still have their goals and flaws.”
That also extends to Curtis Proctor who plays the envious Fred. “The characters are purely their sins,” Proctor explains about the first act. In the second, as Avery opens up, “the sins become more three dimensional,” Proctor says. This is where the audience starts to see themselves through the sin. They start out in act one, laughing at the situations, but by act two there is almost a mirror pointed to the audience where they are forced to see themselves through these flawed individuals.
This play does take place in the 1980s during the San Francisco Earthquake which is a different period with unique lingo and references. To get the actors up to speed, the production’s stage manager, Jordan Rippon, showed the cast a PowerPoint that educated everyone on the culture of the times, and what was going on in San Francisco leading up to and after the Earthquake. Joe Seifreit, who plays the sin of greed, said that this PowerPoint presentation really put the story into perspective and as an actor it made him ask “What can I do to make the scenes period?” Also, just understanding the context of the earthquake brings an urgency that makes the rehearsal process that much more realized for the actors.
There are references in the play from 1989 that audiences may not understand, but according to Curtis Proctor, “What this play can still speak to today is that as a society we still view the world and people as black and white.”
Like the main character of Avery, we judge and we are all flawed, but finding the humanity in our differences is ultimately what is at the heart of this play. This is also what the actors and creative team are intending to tap into throughout the creative process.
Playing into sin every night is no easy task, especially for Jake Gould who plays Avery’s boss Jason (wrath), and Joe Seifreit who plays a greedy man named Jonathan.
“Some days are easier than others, but you just have to take some time before going onstage to harness the character,” Seifreit says. There is a truth to all of the characters, and while not easy, the actors have to tap into these flaws to truly bring the piece to life. Jake Gould who plays Avery’s wrath filled boss Jason, has been trying to pick out individual moments to harness his wrath. If the character yelled for the whole play, Jason would turn into more of a caricature. Gould wanted to tap into his own wrath, and although draining at times for the actors, the realism is really what brings this play to life for the audience.
SIN is playing at Rafters Theatre from April 20 through 29, and this particular theater is sure to be an extraordinary place for audiences to experience this story. Rafters is an intimate black box house that makes the audience feel like they are a part of the story. The play is uncomfortable and challenging at times in its content, but Macleod shines a mirror on the audience through her writing that allows our true selves to emerge.