Sod Story: NC Picnic, Opening Sept. 11, Comes Complete With Layer of Grass

News   Sod Story: NC Picnic, Opening Sept. 11, Comes Complete With Layer of Grass
 
Theatregoers at Triad Stage's revival of Williams Inge's Picnic, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama set over a hot Labor Day weekend, have been getting to their seats by crunching across a carpet of dead sod.
Director Preston Lane (left) and scenic designer Howard C. Jones on the sod-covered stage of Picnic.
Director Preston Lane (left) and scenic designer Howard C. Jones on the sod-covered stage of Picnic.

It's not an outdoor production. The Greensboro, NC, Equity company designed the production this way, to underline the parched emotions of the Midwest-set classic. Opening is Sept. 11, following previews from Sept. 6.

"Our audiences seem appreciative of the realism of late summer in Kansas," Triad artistic associate and Picnic dramaturg Drew Barker told Playbill.com. "Scenic designer Howard C. Jones decided to go with the sod since [the stage is] literally at audience members' feet…all other options just did not look as real."

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Triad artistic director Preston Lane directs the drama on Triad's three-quarter thrust stage. Set designer Jones has turned the stage floor into a wall-to-wall carpet of real sod, burned out by a long, hot summer. Some patrons (about a third of the crowd) walk across the parched earth to get to their seats.

The play about a handsome stranger who arouses the dreams and scorn of women in a Kansas town continues to Sept. 27. The play launches the ninth season of the resident Equity theatre in North Carolina.

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Picnic is the second play by William Inge to be produced by Triad Stage. The first was Bus Stop in September 2004.

Lane's cast includes performers from the New York area and the Triad area: Lorraine Shackelford as Helen Potts, Joe Tippett as Hal, Cheryl Koski as Millie, Philip Eggers as Bomber, Meg Steedle as Madge, Elisabeth Ritson as Flo Owens, Amy da Luz as Rosemary, Matthew Carlson as Alan, Joby Lee Strachan as Irma Kronkite, Emily Mark as Christine Schoenwalder and James Crawford as Howard Bevans.

The production team also includes costume designer Kelsey Hunt, lighting designer John Wolf, sound designer David E. Smith, dramaturg Drew Barker, dialect coach Christine Morris, fight director Jim Wren, choreographer Donna Baldwin Bradby, casting director Cindi Rush, stage manager Eric Tysinger and assistant stage manager is Christy Weikel.

For more information visit www.triadstage.org.

Director Preston Lane (left) and Howard C. Jones, at Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC.
Director Preston Lane (left) and Howard C. Jones, at Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC.
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