The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 31st

'The Final Resting Place of Smick Bumley' explores family dynamics

This is the fourth in a series of stories this week showcasing the student playwrights featured in LAB! Theatre’s “One Acts in the Park,” which begins Saturday at Forest Theatre.

Sophomore Jordan Imbrey had a name for a character — or three.

“The Final Resting Place of Smick Bumley” tells the story of a son, a father and a grandfather — all named Smick Oliver Bumley.

In the play, the son — who goes by Bum — and the grandfather — who goes by Smick — attempt to learn from one another after Oli, the father, abandoned the family.

“It became about two characters learning to sympathize with each other and not blame each other for what someone else did,” Imbrey said.

He said the one-act festival is the first time he has let go of one of his stories’ reins and allowed someone else to direct it.

“I’m trying to take as far a step back as possible,” he said. “It’s more interesting to see how someone interprets the work than try to micromanage and control what they do with it.”

That responsibility goes to sophomore Clare Shaffer, who is directing the play. She said the script’s opportunities for artistic choices appealed to her.

“I pushed really hard to get that play,” she said.

But Imbrey has already directed his story once before.

During winter break, a friend wanted to work on a film project, so Imbrey adapted his work for film and directed it. It is now in post-production.

Shaffer said she didn’t want the film to influence the play.

“I refused to watch the film version until after,” she said.

But Ben Elling, a dramatic arts major, has gotten a taste of both. After playing Bum in the film, he is playing Smick in the festival.

“I kind of relished the opportunity to approach this piece from a new position,” he said.

“Having the opportunity to play Bum and understanding the want for closure at the end helps me play Smick because I know where both characters are coming from.”

And even though the play is one act, Angel Giddens, who plays Bum’s mother Marie, said there is plenty of room to explore the characters.

“I was originally intrigued by the depth you get with the characters in a short amount of time,” she said. “You just have to dive right in and do what you feel.”

Giddens said the reality of the characters and of the theme will allow audience members to connect with the story.

“Nobody has a perfect picture of a family,” she said.

“I think that is something everyone can connect and relate to on a personal level.”

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