PITTSBURG — Alvin heard yelling and banging from next door, he was witnessing the anger from a failed relationship, something he’s not totally comfortable with.
As he stands outside on his balcony clutching a golf club, little did he know he was about to start a new relationship the next morning.
Karen was the woman next door telling her relentless ex-boyfriend to go away. Despite the ending of their relationship, Karen is eager to start a new life without him. She’s talkative, outgoing and is optimistic.
Alvin — is not.
He seeks ultimate comfort in his own world — his apartment. Alvin is quiet and reserved. Some would say he has agoraphobia, hardly ever going past his balcony.
“I’m just eager to start afresh and I’m very talkative,” Michelle Jamison, who plays Karen, said. “He’s very quiet and I’m very ‘all out there’ with my life and he’s very quiet and reserved.
“But we start becoming very interested in each other, I draw conversation out of him and in that process we become interested in each other’s lives.”
This relationship was built on an adjoining balcony at a Chicago high rise apartment, the setting of the play.
“The very first scene I’m in is just her popping Alvin’s bubble,” Austin VanBecelaere, who plays Alvin, said. “She initiates conversation, something Alvin is very, very against and wants no part of at first, but he kinda gives her a look over and thinks she’s cute, so he becomes gradually more and more okay with her getting into his safe place.”
Karen’s existence in his life begins to make waves in Alvin’s perfect world inside his apartment.
“It’s definitely something he struggles with throughout the play, whether or not to go back to the world he left,” Austin. “I definitely understand some of his problems with people he has, how much one can handle from those people.
“Fighting, he doesn’t like that, he doesn’t like witnessing people being crappy, he wants a perfect world and he’s found one in his apartment because he’s the only one there.”
Alvin would need to understand that “we don’t all have to get along, or agree with everything to coexist” to take a step out of his apartment and jump into relationships once again.
Even his relationship with Karen is not immune to issues. Throughout the play they are seen arguing, debating and having conversations.
About the Play
“The Balcony Scene” is set at a Chicago high rise apartment and is part of Pittsburg Community Theatre’s After Dark Series, which are intended for more mature audiences and may have language or subject matter not appropriate for children. Parental guidance is suggested for this play.
Directed by Joey Pogue, a member of the Pittsburg State Communications Department who also directs for Pitt State Theatre, said he selected the play because many people struggle with relationships.
“I thought it was very topical because people struggle with relationships on a variety of levels and this play shows the ending of a relationship and the beginning of another,” Pogue said. “It shows the dynamics that surrounds those processes.
“It depicts people struggling with intimacy and the transparency that must take place for intimacy to occur. The risk involved, the self disclosure involved, the taking off of the masks we wear.”
Pogue said “The Balcony Scene” is also indirectly topical in today’s culture, including sexuality.
“It addresses the issues that we are not having a conversation about, but we need to have a conversation about,” he said.
Pittsburg State University students in Pogue’s Gender Communication, Family Communication and Ethical Communication courses will have an opportunity to take observations of the play and align it with what is going on in their textbook.
“It is a teaching tool and that goes back to the whole Greek idea of theater is not just entertainment or meaningless sensationalism, it’s meant to teach us who we are,” he said. “The actors themselves, they are human examples of what it means to be human, so the audience gets to study themselves through the actors.
“The actors have a tremendous responsibility to put that on the stage for people to identify with, delve into and think about.”
Want to go?
Pittsburg Community Theatre’s "After Dark" series continues Oct. 4-6 at Memorial Auditorium. Performances will be held at 8 p.m. each night.
Ticket sales have begun at www.memorialauditorium.org or by calling the box office at 620-231-7827 during business hours Monday through Friday.
Parental guidance is suggested.
Who is in the play?
Directed by Joey Pogue, a member of the Pittsburg State Communication Department who also directs for Pitt State Theatre, the show features a cast of just three. All happen to be PSU alumni: Austin VanBecelaere (2018), Michelle Jamison (1996), and Chris Stonecipher (2012). The technical director for the show, Jason Huffman, also is a PSU graduate (2003, 2014).
At the conclusion of the final showing of Pittsburg Community Theatre’s production, “The Balcony Scene,” Saturday, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A with experts from Pittsburg State University and the community.
Professor Browan Conrad, who is president of the Women’s Studies Council, associate professor Harriet Bachner, who is a member of the council, Stephanie Spitz, PSU’s campus victim advocate, and Jim Orwig, local counselor, will comprise the panel.
This article has been updated to share about the panel discussion.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.