A lot of tragedy has filled this past week at home and abroad. It’s times like these that the importance of theatre is magnified. Our artform and the stories it tells give us a means to cope, a tool to escape, a lens to help make sense of the world, and above all, a constant reminder that we’re not alone in this adventure called life. Nowhere was this more evident than at UNO Theatre’s production of Female Transport this past weekend.
Before one of the performances, a UNO Theatre student and backstage crew member never showed for his call time. He was found dead at his residence not long after. The event shook all involved with the production and the performance for that evening was cancelled. When the time came to decide whether or not to continue, the cast and crew played on in order to commemorate their lost classmate.
“For the UNO Theatre department, our production of Female Transport provided us the opportunity to come together as a community and embrace the pain that we were all experiencing in the loss of one of our students and crew members. The performances after the news of this student’s death were remarkably compelling and everyone used the opportunity as a tribute the memory of this student. Everyone’s strength was remarkable and I couldn't be more proud of each and every student in the UNO Theatre Department,” said UNO Director of Theatre Steven Williams.
What transpired on stage was an ensemble of actors performing a show that provided its own truths on how to handle great adversity. While confined to the bowels of dirty ship, the women on stage find ways to fight on in the face of adversity. Though their story is full of hardship and tragedy, they find a way to smile and sing. The performance of Krystal Kelly best exemplified this idea.
Throughout the night, whether chained to a bench, confined to a barrel, or beaten to a pulp, Kelly’s character was never silenced. Her spot on one-liners, facial expressions, and comedic timing had the audience in stitches, providing a much needed levity to the show and giving the audience a lens to view the harsh world presented before them.
“With doing Female Transport and being close to a loss at first it seemed frightening, the thought of getting on stage and not knowing where those emotions would take us. Come to find out it was actually therapeutic and you found even more depth, and oddly, more beauty and meaning in the work. We were able to share our grief together as a company in a number of ways and that was more comforting than I could ever imagine,” said Kelly.
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