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4/16/2007 Linfield Theatre sets stage for 'The Waiting Room'

McMINNVILLE - Linfield College theatre students will explore the timeless quest for beauty and its cost during the upcoming production of "The Waiting Room," a dark comedy by Lisa Loomer.

Performances will be held May 3-5 and 10-12 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, at 2 p.m. in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall at Linfield. A portion of the box office proceeds from opening night will benefit Henderson House.

This play is for mature audiences and includes strong language.

Under the direction of Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts, the award-winning play portrays three women from different centuries who meet in a present day doctor's waiting room. Forgiveness From Heaven is an 18-century Chinese woman whose bound feet are causing her to lose her toes. Victoria is a 19-century tightly corseted English woman suffering from what is commonly known as "hysteria." Wanda, a modern girl from New Jersey, is having problems with her silicone breasts and battling breast cancer. Husbands, doctors, Freud, the drug industry and the FDA all come under examination.

The play takes a look at the aesthetics of beauty and the price some are prepared to pay as they manipulate their bodies to please the culture. It also explores the roles women play, Gupton said. For example, Victoria yearns for knowledge but during the Victorian era, women were not encouraged to be educated.

"It's that smashing up against our natural instincts and proper behavior," Gupton said. "The play has very poignant issues within the humor. We can laugh at our own quest for beauty and empathize with the things we're trying to do to achieve that ideal."

Trish Everett, a senior majoring in theatre from Bainbridge Island, Wash., plays Victoria, who is dealing with health problems from years of wearing corsets and pounds of clothing.

"Her husband thinks she has hysteria and wants her ovaries removed, but really she's educated and wants to learn more," Everett said. "She doesn't fit in the normal role she's been prescribed."

For Everett, an active participant in the Linfield theatre program for the last four years, this will be her final production at Linfield. She's happy to be playing a character with such depth.

"The play has a strong message about redefining your own concepts of beauty and I've enjoyed exploring that with the rest of the cast," she said. "Each of the three characters comes full circle and becomes empowered in the end. They each find their own peace within the chaos of the situation."

The 17-member cast includes students from outside the theatre department as well, including Ehow Chen, a senior majoring in chemistry who is cast as a husband in the play. This is his first theatrical production, and one reason he took the role was to try something different.

"I really wanted to finish my time here at Linfield with a unique experience and boy am I getting it," said Chen.

As a member of the Linfield Chamber Orchestra, Chen has performed solo and ensemble pieces on the viola, but he is facing new challenges as an actor, particularly the awareness of body language, stage position, flow of script and the voice projection. He said his voice is often too quiet.

Throughout the play, set changes are reconfigured by a series of curtains hanging from tracts, much like in a hospital. Guest artist Dan Backlund, chair of the theatre department at Swanee: The University of the South, designed the set. Four stereotypical "beautiful" nurses move the curtains to change scenery, serving as constant reminders to the three main characters of the standards they aspire to.

Linfield students and an alumna are busy behind the scenes. Melissa (Schmeer) Baker, a 2004 Linfield graduate and resident lighting designer for Salem Repertory Theatre, is coordinating lighting design. Linfield junior Malia Harris is working with costumer DeMara Cabrera to design costumes, junior Marcia Willard is makeup designer and junior Dawn Moore is hair designer.

Post-show panel discussions will be held immediately following both Thursday performances, May 3 and 10. The discussions will center on the tie between poor body image and abusive relationships, and concepts of beauty.

They are $9 for adults and $7 for students and seniors (62+) with a $2 discount on opening night. Tickets are now available on the web, offering added convenience and personal seat selection. Visit and click on "Buy tickets for The Waiting Room." A small service charge will apply for web orders.

Tickets may also be purchased at the Marshall Theatre box office or ordered over the phone. The box office, located just inside the lobby of Ford Hall, is open Tuesday through Friday, 3-5 p.m., with extended hours on performance days. The box office is also open May 5 and 12, 3-8 p.m., and May 6, noon-2 p.m. The box office is closed Mondays.

For more information, call 503-883-2292.