Get ready to meet a whole host of characters — some oddball, some relatable — in Kennewick High School’s production of 52 Card Pickup.
The play, written by Frank Catalano, is more of an anthology, with the stories and characters all built around the theme that no one goes through life alone.
People impact each other — good, bad or indifferent, said Dennis Larsen, the high school’s drama teacher.
“Something always is affecting you, one way or another,” said Jehiely Arias-Alcaraz, a sophomore.
Each of the five actors plays at least five to six different characters who appear in the anthology, Larsen said.
At times, more than one actor will be on the stage at the same time, but about 90 percent of the two-hour play features monologues. All five actors are only on stage all together at the beginning and end of the play.
That makes it a true test in memorization.
“Unless you play Hamlet, you will never have to memorize this many lines again,” Larsen said.
Once the five had their lines memorized, that’s when they started playing around with each character, said Brian Prudhomme, a sophomore
During practice, Larsen said he would stop them and have them go back and play the same role with a different intonation, word stress and body motions so they could try out a good variety before settling on a winner.
Costumes are simplistic, with actors dressed in black or white. Larsen said that was a suggestion made by the author.
But the simple costumes combined with few props and a couple of chairs as a set means the actors really have to use acting skills to differentiate their characters.
Voice and body language are key in the character development, the actors said.
“You build a character from the feet up,” said Steven Rando, a junior.
And the actors give cues before the first word exits their mouth. They may move slowly to indicate age or strut across the stage with perfect posture.
Each is playing characters they don’t themselves relate too. Alyson Blair, a sophomore, said she plays one character who is gaga for dogs, a challenge since, “I am deathly allergic to dogs.” Both Brian and Steven said they were challenged by trying to portray anger in some of their characters.
Ultimately, the actors hope each person in the audience will be able to relate to at least one of the many characters they play during the anthology.
“That’s me or I know a person like that,” said Kayla Pevey, a freshman.
Steven said one of his characters experiences what many do, going through the motions, and then having something happen that jolts them from the routine.
And it may not be the character, but more the emotion, that makes the connection. Brian said one of his characters, who is in love, seems alone.
“I think a lot of people can relate to loneliness,” he said.
Actors will directly address the audience at times. “We try to shake up the audience. We try to get them to think,” Larsen said.
Kennewick High School’s 52 Card Pickup starts 7 p.m. May 7-9 in the school’s Art Fuller Auditorium.
Tickets are available at the door, at $10 for adults and $5 for students and children.