“Greater Tuna” Satirizes Small-Town Texas Life

By Deirdre Sackett

This coming weekend, Greater Tuna will play in the Hepburn Zoo. The two-man satirical show, directed by Teddy Anderson ’13.5, will run from Oct. 25 – 27.

Greater Tuna is part of a series of four comedic plays written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. Set in the fictional Texas town of Tuna, the “third-smallest town in the state,” the play is a dark commentary, as well as satire, on small-town life and attitudes. The two-man cast portrays over 20 different characters of varying genders and ages.

Characters include Jody Bumiller, who is “followed constantly by eight to 10 dogs,” R. R. Snavely, UFOlogist and town drunk and Vera Carp, the town snob and vice president of the “Smut-Snatchers of the New Order” club.

Nathaniel Rothrock ’13 and Nicholas Hemerling ’15 are the two actors performing in the show. The show is unique in that it possesses such a small acting cast, but Rothrock noted that Greater Tuna is different than previous shows at the College in another, more meaningful way.

“The show is a step away from the super political theater and rhetoric that the faculty has done recently, and is more intended to be a comedic look at hypocrisy and racism,” he said. “It is more meant as a comedic show rather than any sort of deep intense show, and I wanted to show more the skills of the actors rather than hit the audience over the head with the plot and meanings behind everything.”

Acting in a two-man show and portraying many characters proved to be a challenge for Hemerling.

“Greater Tuna has presented me with what is probably the toughest acting challenge I have ever faced,” he said. “It’s just two actors trying to create a whole town of crazy characters. It’s been incredibly fun playing around in rehearsals, exploring and shaping these different characters.”

One of the challenges for Hemerling was breaking through the gender barrier.

“I really love playing the female characters because I really have to get out of my own body for them,” he said. “Also, I love wearing skirts and heels. I had to practice walking in heels a lot.  To the delight of my hallmates, I walked around my dorm with them on to practice.”

Rothrock also commented on how the hectic nature of the two-man show brought out the best in the crew.

“Given how many characters two actors play, the spectacle of the show means the most to me,” said Rothrock. “The cast and crew that I have picked have been incredibly professional, to the point that I trusted them enough not to need to oversee every little detail, nor did I have to constantly remind them to bring me results. It has been a really fun and very organized experience, and I am so grateful for all of the hard work of everyone involved.”

Besides the two main actors, the driving force behind the comedic performance is a small contingent of students. The show will be stage managed by Anna Parker ’15, with costume design by Emily Jacke ’13 and sound design by Grace Bell ’13. Angela Santee ’13 and Annie MacPherson ’16 will run the light and sound boards.

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