The Oklahoma State University Department of Theatre is preparing for its first Main Stage Production of the 2016-2017 school year. Tanya Barfield’s The Call will run Sept. 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 25 at 2:30 p.m. in the Vivia Locke Theatre of the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts.
The play, written by New York based playwright Tanya Barfield, is directed by guest director, G.D. Kimble, a playwright and director based in New York City. His stay at OSU is partly funded by the Division of Institutional Diversity. A contemporary play about cross-cultural adoption, The Call brings all kinds of issues to light with its small cast of five characters. The interracial cast battles topics like race and identity, but it’s also about courage, honesty and stepping outside of our comfort zone.
The Call focuses on Annie and Peter, played by senior Courtney Farney and graduate student Robert Mills. They are a twenty-something white professional couple in New York City that struggles through infertility and in vitro fertilization in their frustrated efforts to conceive a child. After no success, the couple decides on international adoption and sets their sights on a baby from Africa, but not everyone is supportive of their international adoption. Rebecca and Drea, played by junior Marlina Bruner and freshman Simone Pinnock, are an African American couple who grapple with the idea of a white couple raising an African child. Matters get more complicated when Annie and Peter’s African neighbor, Alemu, played by sophomore Kelton Neals, insists on guiding them through the adoption process. When “the call” finally comes, uncomfortable truths about everybody’s pasts get exposed, and the characters are forced to come to terms with new realities. Not all lives and relationships are picture perfect, and The Call tackles the human ability to overcome obstacles while embracing an imperfect life.
Kimble is particularly captivated by Barfield’s writing. She’s crafted a piece full of complicated and troubled characters who aren’t necessarily likeable all the time. The play suggests that sometimes hope and good will might not always be enough to save the day.
“That’s a type of writing the American theatre hasn’t embraced in generations, and it’s exciting to be a part of it now,” Kimble said.
Farney, a theatre major from Broken Arrow, has been seen before on the Vivia Locke stage, particularly in Almost, Maine last year and The 39 Steps the year before. Despite her previous involvement, Farney is stepping out of her own comfort zone to work in a heavier, dramatic piece
“It’s challenging to play someone in such a different stage in life as I am,” Farney said. “It’s difficult to keep in mind that for her to get to this point where we see her in the show, she has given so much and lost so much countless times for years on end.”
Andrew Kimbrough, professor and department head, feels a personal draw to The Call. His personal connection to adoption, particularly international adoption, emphasizes the main struggles experienced by all of the characters in the play.
“As one close to the adoption experience and having gone through it myself, I’m aware that opening one’s home to a child is a huge and difficult decision for some people,” Kimbrough said.
“I’m so glad G.D. has come on board to guide this production. He’s helping make the difficult decisions and actions these people take seem real and honest and believable. Even if you know nothing about adoption, you’ll relate to the strong feelings expressed in this tense and exciting play.”
Tickets for The Call are $12 for general admission, $8 for seniors (65+) and $7 for students. All freshman students and first semester transfer students are eligible to receive a free ticket to the show. Season tickets are still available for the entire season at a discounted rate. To purchase tickets, visit theatre.okstate.edu/box-office or call the Box Office at (405) 744-6094.
Cast and director of The Call; back row: Robert Mills, Kelton Neals, G.D. Kimble; front row: Simone Pinnock, Marlina Bruner, Courtney Farney