By LAUREN KOSKE
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — With intense themes incorporated with dynamic visuals such as video, dance and art, war drama “9 Circles” is currently showing at the University of Central Missouri.
“9 Circles” premiered Feb. 13, in the Nickerson Blackbox Theater, and will run through Monday, Feb 20. Performances are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. each night.
Tickets are required and may be purchased by students for $7, faculty, staff, senior citizens and military for $10, and by the general public for $12 at the Highlander Theatre Box Office or online. Seating is not assigned, and is first-come, first-served. Audience members are suggested to arrive at 7 p.m. in order to claim a spot in the 100-seat theater and experience various pre-show music and video elements the play has to offer.
This is the first time the UCM has hosted the production. John Wilson, department of theatre and dance chair, will direct the play, which was written by Bill Cain and mirrors the story of Dante’s poem “Inferno.”
“It is the story of a fictional character named Daniel Reeves, based on an actual event that happened during Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Wilson said. “There was a specific war crime that this person committed.”
Wilson said the play follows Reeves after his discharge of the military, and his ensuing journey through each “circle” leading up to the final circle dealing with his judgment.
Wilson said various multimedia elements such as music, video and art have been carefully selected to enhance the viewing experience before and during the production.
“There have been very carefully selected music and videos that will be shown before the play, which will help audiences prepare for the ride this play is about to take you on,” Wilson said.
Grant Lesher, UCM theater student, said he was drawn to portray Reeves, partially by fact that the character was so opposite of himself.
“(Reeves) lacks empathy and the ability to see the simple joy in day-to-day life,” Lesher said, “which is drastically different than the way I try to live.”
In addition to the core cast of four, four dancers will incorporate original dance numbers into the play.
“It is a great play,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t need what we are doing to it, but through the incorporation of dance numbers, we are hoping that it will further carry the character of Reeves and keep the audience engaged.”
Though students were cast before winter break to give them enough time to rehearse, Lesher said the rehearsal process was fairly demanding.
The character of Reeves is featured in every scene of the two-hour play.
“It makes me really good at time management,” Lesher said of the preparation process. “The amount of memorization and physical exertion that goes into a role of this size has all been stretching, but I have learned that it is something I can in fact take on and tackle.”
Wilson said he only directs one production per year. Because of that, he said he chooses scripts carefully.
“Due to the chaos of running a department and directing, I better be passionate about the script I choose,” Wilson said. “There is a lot to be passionate about with ‘9 Circles.’”
Both Wilson and Lesher said they hope the production delivers a powerful message of reconsidering whether we think people who may be evil, are also unreachable.
“Reeves has done these horrible and criminal things,” Wilson said. “Is there anything in circle eight or nine that would lead us to beleive that there are glimpses of light in him?”
Wilson said he hopes audience members metaphorically put themselves in their own ninth circle, being aware of how much light and dark they see, and that the play’s journey from darkness to light will stick with them long after they leave the theater.
Lesher said “9 Circles” is for mature audiences only due to some nudity and language.