By Emily Mokler – Contributing Writer
A dead man rises from the stage and shuffles quietly to the silver curtain behind him as the audience chuckles during a ten-minute play put on by volunteers at the Thread Theater last Wednesday evening.
The event is held monthly in a renovated hall within a former French-Catholic church in Lewiston, ME. The Thread Theater aims to engage with anyone interested in writing, performing or watching the performances.
Several UMF students and professor Bill Mesce attended the event, their scripts ready to be performed by volunteers from the audience. The students and Mesce also acted for other plays, gaining a clearer understanding about what it’s like to perform an original work live, as well as what a live audience responds to.
Carrie Close, a junior Creative Writing major, said, “I learn something every time I go: what works, what doesn’t, how to write better dialogue.”
The theme of the event was “In the Heat of the Moment.” Some playwrights made sure to have a character drop that title, while others focused on what that theme meant to them. Close’s play “Not One” had two couples go camping while trying to hide their past indiscretions.
Close said, “I learn about my characters by the way people portray them, that lets me know whether I did a good job of writing my characters or not.”
Mesce’s play “Billy and John” was about two men who bicker with each other while giving directions to a lost couple. The audience voted the play the best of the night. “I got lucky with the actors I got,” Mesce said. “They worked so well together.”
The audience became a character in the way it reacted, sometimes roaring with laughter, other times a chuckle, emboldening the actors in the process. Members shouted excitedly for their friends when they were called to perform, and recited the funniest line while high-fiving them on their return to their seat.
Cameron Gelder’s play about his interpretation of the afterlife ran over ten minutes, which has never happened to him in his two-and-a-half years of attending the Thread Theater. “I told the actors to speak clearly, but they took that as speaking slowly,” Gelder lamented.
Opposite of the entrance is the stage, brightly lit with a simple table and five chairs. The arrangement of these props changed with each play and cast of characters, from use as an impromptu car to a bed holding quarreling lovers.
The admission fee was $5 and the bar was stocked with beer and mixed drinks that the audience made use of throughout the evening.
The next event, with the theme “Stuffed,” will be held November 15th. For more information, search “Thread Theater” on Facebook.