Everyone has heard the jokes that start out with “two men walk into a bar.”
But what happens when two women talk in a kitchen?
That question will be answered during Mount Marty College’s (MMC) theatre production of “A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking.” Written by playwright John Ford Noonan with music by Loudon Wainwright III, the play centers on uptight Maude (Samantha Soukup) finding her structured life interrupted by the arrival of a new neighbor, outspoken Texan Hannah Mae (Elita Eastman).
As the title suggests, the play focuses on the women’s budding friendship as they learn to understand each other despite their differences. This is accomplished in the confines of Maude’s kitchen — which will feel quite small due to the unique approach director James Hovland Jr. is taking regarding the audience. Instead of seating people throughout Marian Auditorium, attendees will sit onstage within a few feet of the set and the actresses. Seating will be limited due to this change.
“It feels like a sitcom,” Hovland said. “I’ve joked that it feels like we’re doing it in front of a live studio audience.”
This is further accomplished with the set’s early 1980s decor and costuming.
“It’s been interesting getting (the actresses) into the mindset of not letting anything that’s happening right behind them distract them from what they’re doing,” Hovland added.
Having the audience so close means that little details that normally wouldn’t be sweated in a regular stage production need to be there to make the set feel more like a real kitchen. This means various appliances found in a normal kitchen setting, including a refrigerator and a telephone, will be functioning and utilized in the show.
Hovland said having these on-set details has helped the actresses improve their performances, which is especially important given there are only two people onstage throughout the 80-minute show.
Another difference is that the play will be performed without intermission, giving the actresses little time in between scenes.
“The original script does have an intermission written in, but we felt that since the show moves pretty quickly and the action is light and fun, it worked without it,” Hovland explained.
The comedy comes from the classic trope of seeing two opposites butt heads with each other while simultaneously finding ways to come together.
“The theme of friendship can mean many different things to many different people,” Hovland said. “Hannah Mae has a more liberal sense of friendship while Maude is more conservative in that regard. So we get to see how each of those ideas of friendship bleed into each other.”
Hovland is eager for audiences to come and experience an MMC theatre performance in a new way.
“We have found moments of clarity and comedy every day, so it’s been a fun experiment,” he said.
“A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking” is rated PG-13. Performances will be Friday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 605-668-1234 or by visiting www.mountmarty.edu/boxoffice.
Cast & Crew
Maude Mix — Samantha Soukup;
Hannah Mae Binder — Elita Eastman
Director/Designer/Technical Director/Box Office — James Hovland Jr.; Costumes/Makeup — Dawn Ferris; Stage Manager/Sound Operator — Kassondra Gooley; Dresser — Alanna Binder; Dresser — Rita Woodraska; Set Design/Playbill/House Manager — Andy Henrickson; Light Board Operator — Adam Roskam; Props Master — Rachel Flynn