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September 21, 2023

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Department of Theatre and Film will present “Book of Days”

A play’s characters don’t usually know they’re in a play.

The characters in “Book of Days” do, and that’s one of the ways the Department of Theatre and Film’s upcoming production differs from typical plays. The characters talk to the audience and disagree with each other about how events really happened.

Additionally, there’s a play within the play. The main character, Ruth, is involved in community theatre and finds herself playing Joan of Arc in “Saint Joan,” a play that resembles her own life — unless it’s her life that resembles the play.

“She tends to find the world very parallel, almost in unison. She can’t really differentiate the play versus her life,” said Mariah Burks, who plays Ruth. “So reality becomes very fuzzy for her.”

Ruth’s inability to recognize reality gets in the way of her relationships, Burks said.

Ruth becomes more like Joan of Arc as the play progresses, Burks said. She also finds herself determined to investigate a murder in the play’s small-town setting of Dublin, Missouri.

“She really starts to mettle and get involved with a lot of people’s lives,” Burks said. “It just really starts to spin out of control.”

Janina Bradshaw plays Sharon Bates, the wife of Ruth’s boss.

“She is very much the quintessential traditional housewife, but she still has power,” Bradshaw said. “The backbone of the town is really Sharon. It’s just that Sharon doesn’t leave her house very often.”

Though Sharon and Ruth don’t directly know each other, they know about each other due to how small the town is.

“That’s an interesting thing to play with as an actor,” Bradshaw said. “What would we have heard in rumors? … And who would be the gossipers?”

Those concepts will be familiar to viewers who hail from small towns, said Patrick Konesko, the play’s director and a theatre and film adjunct faculty member.

“Anyone who grew up in a small Midwestern town will recognize these people and these issues,” Konesko said. “Everything from small-town gossip to the importance of industry … to the influence that the local church has over that town.”

The cast consists of undergraduate students, with the exception of one graduate student. The crew is mostly undergraduate students as well.

“Book of Days” will be performed in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre on Nov. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 15, 16 and 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and children and $15 for others.

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