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Saturday April 1st

LAB! Theatre explores how every choice we make has an impact in Nick Payne's 'Constellations'

<p>LAB! Theatre will perform "Constellations," its last show of this season, on April 12 and 15 at Linda's Downbar. Photo courtesy of Carolina Almy.&nbsp;</p>
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LAB! Theatre will perform "Constellations," its last show of this season, on April 12 and 15 at Linda's Downbar. Photo courtesy of Carolina Almy. 

Starting Thursday, LAB! Theater will begin showing its last play of the year: Nick Payne’s “Constellations.” There will be showings on Thursday, April 12 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. The shows will be in Linda’s Downbar on Franklin Street, and admission is free.

"'Constellations’ first and foremost is a love story between Roland, who’s a beekeeper, and Marianne, who’s an astrophysicist," director Leigha Vilen said. “The show is about the progress of their relationship — so you see eight different moments from the moment they meet, to getting together, to breaking up over a cheating scandal, getting back together, and then dealing with her having a serious illness.”

Samantha Yancey, the producer of “Constellations,” said the play is written so that each moment of Roland and Marianne’s relationship is played out multiple times across various "alternate universes."

“What’s unique about ‘Constellations’ is that you see each of those moments played out five to 10 different ways, depending on differences in what they say," Vilen said. "It could be the tiniest differences — sometimes it’s like a one word difference that can change everything. It’s really about how life can hinge on the tiniest moments.”

Mastering the minute details of the script and portraying the impact of each word have been the most challenging aspects of this play for both Vilen, the director, and Kate Jones, the actress who plays Marianne.

“It’s an hour-long play with only two people on stage, and you never leave," Jones said. "The entire time we are there and we are running the show. Constantly you’re going back and you’re saying the same lines, but there’s a slight difference. It’s been really difficult to find those small changes and differences, but at the same time it’s been really exciting. It’s such a smartly written piece that it’s been really fun to break apart and understand.”

Vilen said that although the constant line changes made the script difficult to master, they also provide a deeper insight into the magnitude of everything we say.

“At the very end there’s a scene where the only difference between it and the scene before is that in one (Roland) says, 'If you have a few weeks,' and then in the second one he says, ‘If you have a few months,’” Vilen said. “(Marianne) makes a choice of whether or not to decide to keep living based on that difference between ‘weeks’ and ‘months.’ The difference there is an incredible amount of difference in hope, and where we are in this progression of her disease.”

To Vilen, the way the script highlights the small linguistic differences creates a very optimistic lens through which the audience can view the world.

“I think what’s so optimistic about this text is that it recognizes the importance of the choices that we make," Vilen said. "And it acknowledges that even when those choices end up hurting us — or end up causing us pain — that making a choice, and choosing to live and experience all the uncertainty in life is worth it every single day."

Yancey said the way the play is written provides a very unique perspective that will be an emotional roller coaster for audiences.

“It is a beautiful piece of theater, and an incredibly unique location,” Yancey said. “It’s free and you can buy food, and if you’re over 21 you can buy alcohol while you’re watching, so you’re supporting a local business and a free piece of student theater. And it’s just an absolutely beautiful show.”


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