Senior makes playwriting debut with “Stalled”

by Marisa Palazzo | Staff Writer

On Saturday, Feb. 17, theater major Mathias Oliver’s senior project, “Stalled,” showed in Cowles Auditorium Stage II. “Stalled” was a staged reading of a play written and directed by Oliver. The cast consisted of four women; sophomores Marguerite Ainsworth and Sarah Chandler, and freshmen Cambria Pilger and Alina Sunoo. “Stalled” is a play about four very different women and how they handle problems concerning the way women are treated in the workplace.

“I wanted to use “Stalled” as an opportunity to tell a story that I wanted to tell, because, being an actor, I’m usually at the disposal of some other playwright and director for what they want to say. So, I wanted to use Stalled as a way to tell something that I thought was really important story wise,” Oliver said. “I felt that, in regards to theater, women weren’t really getting much of a say in the narrative that was being told about them, and there just weren’t really any substantial plays that I found that addressed the issues that I wanted to talk about with regards to women in the workplace.”

“I worked with Mathias before and he’s really, really talented and such an awesome person to work with, so I was really excited for the chance to get to work with him again,” said Ainsworth, who played the role of Maye.

The four women in the play were Maye, Jennifer, Esther, and Marge. Maye used her good looks and sense of humor to work her way up the ladder. Jennifer went about things very differently, she believed that hard work and education was the way to gain higher authority. Esther cared about everyone, she was the woman who did anything she could to ensure that everyone got along. Marge dressed more masculine than the rest and had a sense of humor.

“My favorite scene is Act 1 Scene 6 which is between Marge and Esther because one it’s this nice kind of charming break from the previous scene were everybody’s kind of going at each other’s throats, and Esther and Marge, this is were we really get to see the development of their friendship… and it’s just a really cute scene” Oliver said.

The actors were cast at the end of Fall Semester 2017 and began rehearsing during Jan Term.

“I was very excited. Maye is a very loud and exciting character, but it was also really cool to see her serious side and how she tackles issues in her own way. I thought [she] was very true to life even though she’s a larger than life person.” Ainsworth said. “ So, I was really excited reading through the script. I thought it was so funny and Mathias’s writing is just so good.”

“I really liked the spaghetti scene. It was cool because during the rehearsal process we had so many talk backs and jokes and that was super fun to get close to the cast and work on [the play] at the same time and the spaghetti scene was one of those that we really bonded over constantly making jokes about spaghetti on and off script,” Ainsworth said.

Junior audience member Grace Carruth wanted to come to “Stalled” because Oliver is a good friend of hers and she wanted to come out and support him.

“[“Stalled”] was very funny, and it was very well crafted for [Oliver’s] first writing project” Carruth said. “Stalled” was very humorous at times due to the snarky remarks that Maye and Jennifer threw back and forth at each other, but there was a more serious side too, looking at the points of view of both women especially because most women can relate.  “[“Stalled”] made me laugh and made me think.”  

“There’s one scene where Jennifer calls Maye a slut and the actresses did such a good job from just going from throwing these snarky barbs back and forth in quite a funny way to when she says that line Maye’s really hurt, and I thought that all of the actresses did a really great job of showing how it went way too far,” Carruth said.

“Stalled” has been a working progress since last Spring Semester. Oliver has revised it quite a few times with the help of his project advisers. “Stalled” is still in the beginning stages, it is Oliver’s hope that one day it will be a published play, he said.