In upcoming play at COA, actors to switch roles at every performance

BAR HARBOR — “Everybody,” a play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, will be presented at College of the Atlantic March 7-10 by students in Professor Jodi Baker’s Special Topics in Production class. The play is based on the 15th-century morality play “Everyman” and follows the character Everybody, who is struggling to find someone (or something) willing to join them on a journey toward their impending death.

Performances of “Everybody” will be in the Thomas S. Gates Community Center March 7-9 at 7 p.m. and March 9-10 at 2 p.m. The play runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, and there will be a short talkback after each performance.

The central character of “Everybody” represents everyone, all of us. The in-the-round staging of the production, with a set designed by Priyamvada Chaudhary, aims to blur the divide between actors and audience.

“Audience inclusion is incredibly important. It really is about everybody,” said cast member Gaby Gordon-Fox. “We’re officially acting in-the-round, but I feel like it’s more than that. We’re acting beside and behind, above and around.”

To highlight the element of chance in both life and in death, the play requires five actors to draw their assigned roles for each performance by lottery.

“This format is predicated on a desire to avoid distilling the identity of an ‘everyman’ into the body of a single actor, who necessarily has an age, a gender, a race, a sexual orientation,” according to Lila Neugebauer, who directed the Signature Theatre’s premier production of “Everybody.”

This means the core ensemble of actors has had to memorize virtually the entire play and also find ways to create distinct characters and scene dynamics within 120 possible combinations.

This is the fifth rendition of the Special Topics in Production course that Baker has directed at COA. Previous productions include Chekhov/Frayn’s “The Sneeze,” at the Criterion Theatre, and last year’s production of “The Wolves,” by Sarah De Lappe, in Gates Auditorium.

Admission is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Email [email protected] with questions and/or to reserve seating.

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