Misfits unite

Phoebe Medler (Diwata), right, and Bill Evans (Solomon) rehearse a scene from “Speech and Debate.”

Photo by Audrey Caro
Phoebe Medler (Diwata), right, and Bill Evans (Solomon) rehearse a scene from “Speech and Debate.”



MONMOUTH — Audience members might not expect singing and dancing in a play called “Speech and Debate,” but it’s in there.

So are scandal and humor.

Speech and Debate

Where: Rice Auditorium

When: Feb. 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.

Admission: Free for WOU students with ID; $14 general, $10 WOU faculty/staff and seniors, $8 students.

For tickets: 503-838-8462.

This Stephen Karam play, set in Salem, revolves around three misfit high schoolers exposing a sex scandal.

“You’d think this play is going to be about speech and debate, but it’s really funny,” said Tera Lopez, who is directing the play at Western Oregon University.

photo

Max Groshong in the role of Howie during a rehearsal for “Speech and Debate.”

Each scene is named after an event in speech and debate, she said.

Though that isn’t something audience members would notice, it is indicative of Karam’s humor.

“It’s all a play on this speech and debate event,” Lopez said. “There’s a scene called extemporaneous commentary. That scene is actually one of the characters’ blogs.”

In the actual event by that name, a student gets half an hour to gather information about a topic and then present it.

“But this scene is her kind of talking for forever,” she said. “It’s really fun, not something you would ever see by watching the show, you’d have to read the script. This playwright is super clever, and I like weird, dark, witty humor. There are so many things that drew me to this play. Things I didn’t even know until I started working it.”

This is the first show Lopez is directing. She was chosen by WOU faculty after a one-act festival in the spring which was open to students who have taken directing class.

“I enjoy directing,” Lopez said. “I know what I want to say with my art, so that’s the most important thing, I guess. Hopefully that’s where my future is being led.”

To cast “Speech and Debate,” Lopez looked for actors who brought the characters “to life in a more complex way than I had originally seen.”

While all the characters are quirky, they are much more than their quirks, she said.

“I didn’t want it to be all archetype, stereotypical, weirdos,” Lopez said. “I was really looking for people who made them more human.”

Lopez said part of why she was drawn to the play is that she’s always seen herself as an outsider.

She said people may expect the story to be about three misfits taking down a predator, but “then you watch and it’s actually a coming-of-age story about learning to accept yourself for who you are.”

“I am a sucker for a coming-of-age story,” Lopez said. “Especially with most of us being the 18- to 22-year-old range, we’re all so lost and just trying to figure out where we’re supposed to be in the world. What our purpose is and what it actually important to us.”

Speech and Debate

Where: Rice Auditorium

When: Feb. 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.

Admission: Free for WOU students with ID; $14 general, $10 WOU faculty/staff and seniors, $8 students.

For tickets: 503-838-8462.



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