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'Land Southward' a quirky, moving view of living in shadow The Bomb
Company: Springs Ensemble Theatre
Cast: Jeremy Joynt, Carmen Vreeman, JaNae Stansbery, Sallie Walker, Jude Bishop, Michele Abplanalp, Stephen Siebert
Director: Jason Lythgoe
Running time: About two hours with intermission
When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday, Feb. 16-18, 23-25; 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, 26
Where: Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 E. Cache La Poudre St.
Tickets: $15, $10 student tickets five minutes before show; 357-3080, springsensembletheatre.org
The naïveté is hard to believe now: The U.S. government conducted Nuclear testing — 100 detonations between 1951 and 1962, in fact — in the Nevada desert.
Today, of course, it’s generally accepted that the tests, which actually drew spectators, wrought terrible health consequences for those who lived and worked as far as a state away.
They call it Downwind Syndrome.
“The Land Southward,” which runs through Feb. 26 at Springs Ensemble Theatre, explores the human consequences of the testing as seen through a Utah couple and housewife as well as more than 30 other characters played by this small cast.
SET member Jason Lythgoe talks about the Darcy Hogan work, which is the actor’s debut as a director of a full-length play.
The Gazette: You pitched this play to SET, I believe. What’s compelling to you about it?
Jason Lythgoe: I was part of the world premiere production of it in SoCal and wanted to give it another audience out here. It’s a great piece that tells a story that most of America knows only tidbits of.
Gazette: The poster suggests it’s a comedy. Is it?
Lythgoe: It has some funny and satirical moments, and you will laugh quite a bit. But you’ll also cry.
Gazette: Can you characterize Darcy Hogan as a playwright?
Lythgoe: Hogan is a unique American playwright. This was a passionate subject for her. She doesn’t make up the audience’s mind for them. She presents the material from all perspectives and lets them decide.
Gazette: The issue of nuclear testing seems like a milestone of the distant past. How is this relevant to your audience?
Lythgoe: The effects of the fallout are still prevalent today, all across the country. But it’s not just that. We get the government’s slanted story on many issues that effect the population — good and bad. Whether it be media, politics, foreign policy, religion. We rarely get the full, two-sided picture.
Remember all those weapons of mass destruction we found in Iraq that justified wartime actions? Exactly. Me, either.
Gazette: Can you give me a parallel production?
Lythgoe: It’s really akin to docudramas — like Michael Moore movies or “Fast Food Nation,” “Supersize me,” etc. It’s storytelling with narrative, commentary and fantasy elements, like a ’60s-style game show and ’50s educational film (a la “Duck and Cover.”) It is unlike any play I have ever seen or read.