“Almost, Maine” explores love with series of vignettes

Senior Ben Cohen and junior Ashley Kim perform one vignette from Almost, Maine.

MaryScott Hagle

Senior Ben Cohen and junior Ashley Kim perform one vignette from “Almost, Maine.”

Abigail Poag, Staff Writer

In this segment of Pod on the Quad, host Sophia Kontos sits down with junior Ashley Kim and senior Ben Cohen. Both performed in last week’s studio play: “Almost, Maine.” Read more about the show below.

Northern Lights, love and a touch of magic intertwine in John Cariani’s “Almost, Maine,” a play told in a series of eight loosely-connected vignettes.

Performed on Jan. 25 and 26 in the Black Box Theater, “Almost, Maine” follows the people of Almost, a small town in northern Maine, as they navigate the joys and challenges of love on a single winter’s night.

“Inside this really freezing place, there are people with warm hearts,” sophomore assistant stage manager and light board operator Brianna Baskin said. “The people really care about each other and know each other [well].”

The vignettes all occur at approximately 9:00 on the same Friday night, with the characters often referencing characters from other scenes. During scenes and transitions, TV screens mounted on the walls and ceilings projected images of the stars and Northern Lights.

“The Aurora borealis [is] what helps these people transition through different parts of their lives, whether they’re falling in love, falling out of love, discovering themselves [or] discovering someone else,” Director Jamie Stires Hardin said. “We wanted everyone to experience [that], not just the actors on stage.”

Although the scenes all center around a similar theme, each vignette highlights the interactions of a different couple, exploring varied aspects of love.

“Individually, their stories speak to some part of our own personal storylines, and I think that’s what helps to tell the story,” Hardin said. “There’s something relatable in each of the scenes. At some point you go, ‘oh I get it—that’s me.’”

In order to immerse the audience in the world of the play, the set consisted of only blue lighting, tufts of fake snow and sparse pieces of furniture, which the actors and stage crew moved on and off stage between scenes.

“[The set] makes you feel like you’re in this isolated town,” Baskin said. “[You’re] standing in the corner watching the scene unfold in front of you. You really don’t need much to convey what’s going on.”

According to the actors, the limited size of the Black Box allowed the audience members to sit very close to the stage, giving the play an intimate feel.

“[Usually] if you’re acting, you want the most people there, you want the biggest space possible, but doing [the play] in the Black Box brings a quaintness to it,” Ham said. “It brings the audience very close to the action.”

Most of the performers acted in at least two scenes, facing the added difficulty of playing different characters back to back.

“It’s not so much which lines you have to say; it’s more the volume, the intensity, what personality you have to convey,” freshman Casey Propst said. “Between my two scenes, I almost have to switch attitudes. For a lot of people, it’s the same way. They have to switch their personalities to encompass both characters.”

With each scene consisting of two or three characters, the actors were able to work closely with their fellow cast mates.

“You really connect with the person you’re doing your scene with,” Propst said. “I am now really good friends with both of my scene partners, so I think it was a good experience for all of us.”

Tickets were sold out for the Jan. 26 performance as audience members packed into the Black Box to support their friends and classmates.

“It was really cool to see a friend actually doing what they love,” sophomore Matthew Yekell said.

Featuring elements of magic and wonder, Almost, Maine at times suspends disbelief—just enough to tell the story.

“Love itself is really complicated—it doesn’t make much sense,” Baskin said. “The magical events explain how a lot of people don’t understand what they’re feeling when they love someone. A lot of times, it’s just feels magic. It makes the play really special.”

Podcast credits:

Produced, hosted and edited by: Sophia Kontos

Logo designed by: Amélie Perrier and Siena Zerr

Music by: Ben Sound