One-act play “Tracks” rolled into the subway station on Shippensburg University’s Memorial Auditorium stage last weekend.
The play, put on by SU’s Act V Productions student organization, ran at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, and again at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Several individuals, including a lawyer, nun, professor and cancer patient entered a subway station.
The scene was a gray scape, decorated with graffiti alluding to death, religion and faith, among other things. One man slept on a bench while a girl fiddled with a cigarette as she sat on the edge of the stage, which was meant to simulate the platform of the station.
More characters continued to file into the station from the stairwell at the back of the stage.
It was soon revealed to the audience that the characters are all from different cities around the world. Instead, they found themselves transported to this one location and unable to go back. Several of the actors theorized that they were dead and were in some variation of the afterlife. How else could they have been transported from their homes to this mystery station?
As the clock ticked on, the characters reflected on their lives, and pointed out both the good and bad things they have done. They waited for the subway, not knowing if it would lead to heaven or hell. While some were eager to move onto whatever was next for them, others were reluctant to step onto the train.
The themes behind the play centered on those who remain stationary in life, versus those who keep moving to leave the past in the past. The play is very figurative — nothing can be taken literally in this story.
Various characters in the play represented different archetypical elements. The lawyer represented unapologetic justice; the nun was mercy; the resigned cancer patient was pragmatism; and the homeless girl was pessimism. In some lights, the subway station represented purgatory.
In others, it was the past that so many of the characters clung to with desperation.
Assistant director Ben Greenberg found that it was hard to understand the full message at first.
“At first I thought it was all about religion, and it took me awhile to realize that it wasn’t about faith in God, but about faith in yourself,” he said.
Greenberg and director Karen Rundquist were working to put the show together since last fall.
“Most one-acts are comedies and are really shallow, because there’s not much to talk about in a half an hour,” Rundquist said.
She found that it is hard to find one-act plays that have deep and meaningful messages, but that this one took the cake.
“Tracks” was one of two Act V shows this spring. The second, “9 to 5 the musical,” will take the stage April 26 through April 28.