‘The Shadow Box’ student production to explore mortality and humor

April 18, 2016

Kyle Guthrie
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When somebody thinks of death, laughter is not usually the first thing that tends to pop into most people’s heads.

The UCCS Theatre Company is putting on “The Shadow Box,” starting April 22 at 8 p.m. in the Osborne Studio Theater in University Hall.

Written by Michael Cristofer in 1977, the play takes place over a 24-hour period and focuses on three characters who are dying of cancer. After being diagnosed, the patients are released to an experimental hospice comprised of cabins behind the hospital.

“It’s about things you think would be uncomfortable, but there are laughs and a lot of sweetness in it,” said senior VAPA instructor Leah Chandler-Mills.

Director Roy Ballard said he believes the play resounds strongly today, which is why he personally requested the play to be brought to the Osborne stage.

The play won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award.

“The theme is about life and the living we do when we know that our days are numbered,” said Ballard. “It really focuses on how people deal with death, and the family struggle to come to terms with it.”

Ballard said the script had a profound effect on him.

“I thought it was something that would play very well in the Osborne Theater. There are a few words that we have modernized, but the theme is still there. It’s something that we’re all dealing with; everyone is going to die of course,” said Ballard.

Chandler-Mills said the play is important and significant for Ballard, as it is the first play he ever proposed for the school.

“The Shadow Box’ is going to be a fabulous production. Roy is a terrific director and all-around theater guy,” said Chandler-Mills.

Ballard said he is impressed with the cast and crew involved with the play.

“I got really lucky, because I’ve got a hell of a cast, a really amazing set of actors. There is not a standout or a weak one among them,” said Ballard.

Chandler-Mills said they have a great design team.

“The best of the best are working on the show, and I really think it’s going to show.”

The Lowdown
What: ‘The Shadow Box’
When: April 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, and May 1 at 8 p.m.
Where: Osborne Studio Theater
How Much: Free with student ID