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2/23/2004 Linfield theatre to spotlight senior work

McMINNVILLE ? Four years of preparation by two Linfield College theatre majors will light up the stage during a production at Linfield’s new Marshall Theatre next month.

Kelly Turner of Hillsboro and Melissa Schmeer of Milwaukie have focused their senior thesis projects on "Stop Kiss," a drama by Diana Son, which will be presented at the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall. Turner is playing a lead role for her acting thesis and Schmeer crafted the lighting for her thesis in lighting design.

Performances will be March 11-13, 17 and 19 at 8 p.m. and March 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for general admission and $5 for students, Linfield faculty and staff, and seniors.

Set in New York, "Stop Kiss" centers around two women and the dramatic results of their perceived relationship. Callie is holding down a job as a radio traffic reporter when she meets Sara, a Midwesterner who, against her parents’ wishes, has moved to the city to teach third grade students in the Bronx. Their kiss ? the center of this powerful drama ? provokes a violent attack which transforms their lives in ways they could never anticipate. As "Stop Kiss" confronts the reality of physical violence, Diana Son’s imaginative, moving and surprising comedy brings audiences and her principal characters to unexpected places.

Ted deChatelet, adjunct professor of theatre at Linfield, who is directing the production, said the play was chosen because it offers challenging roles to several actors and carries a timely message.

"The play is about not taking things at face value, especially people," said deChatelet, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Portland and a founding member of Salem Repertory Theatre. "Labels are often inadequate, too convenient and rarely universal. The play is about tolerance and acceptance of oneself and others. Mostly it’s about love."

The show will be performed "in the round," an arena seating configuration with audience members surrounding the stage. Taking a minimalist approach to set design, deChatelet has eliminated elaborate set pieces and costume changes. The result is a theatrical experience with every actor in full view of the audience for the entire show.

The arena show offers a particular lighting challenge for Schmeer.

"Arena seating always makes you think a little differently, because you have to light all four sides," said Schmeer, who has been interested in theatrical lighting since high school. "With lighting, I have to help suggest time changes to emphasize location and what’s going on in the play."

Ten Linfield students are involved with the production, with five in the cast and five involved in behind-the-scenes work. Turner, whose character is in every scene except one, said the play is a great example of contemporary realism.

"This play is about very real people," she said. "It could be you in your own life, and it will teach you something about yourself. It’s hard to not overact. I’ve got to just be myself and be real. I don’t have to pull things out of a hat."

Turner has found her ambition lies in directing. She plans to attend graduate school focusing in that area but she’s spending her time at Linfield bolstering her acting skills.

"You can’t be a true director until you’re a true performer," she said.

Schmeer will also pursue graduate school, though in lighting design. She feels her solid experience in the Linfield theatre program has prepared her for what’s ahead.

"At Linfield I have the opportunity to not only do the thesis, but I get to go full force with it," she said. "I have had such a hands-on experience. At a bigger school I wouldn’t have the chance to be so involved."

Tickets for "Stop Kiss" can be reserved by calling 503-883-2292 or by e-mail at theatre@linfield.edu. Tickets may be purchased at the box office beginning Wednesday, Feb. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with expanded box office hours on performance days.

The play will run approximately one hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. Language and subject matter may not be suitable for all audiences.

To reach Ford Hall from 99W turn east on Keck Drive, across from Roth’s Market in south McMinnville. Turn right on Lever Street and right again on Ford Drive. Ford Hall is located at the west end of the parking lot.