Nov. 26 2008 12:00 AM

Black box show raises big questions

The greenroom backstage at Riverwalk Theatre seems like a heavy place to hang out: One minute you’re waiting to take the stage, the next you’re sucked down the rabbit hole, wrestling with the nature of reality and human cognition. Before you know it, you’re directing your first play. At least that’s how it worked for Alex Freeman.

Freeman, 19, was backstage during a performance of “Cobb,” (in which he played The Peach) when he stumbled on the script of Lee Blessing’s surrealistic drama “A Body of Water” printed in its entirety in the back of American Theater Magazine. “I read the play and immediately fell in love with it because of all the questions I started asking as soon as I finished it,” Freeman said. Questions like, “What is reality? What is truth? How does everyone’s experience differ from each other?”

“All those questions led me to want to direct the piece to hopefully find some answers or maybe even more questions,” he said.

The search for answers hasn’t been easy. The Albion College theater major has made the drive to Lansing five nights a week for the last three and a half weeks for rehearsals, and still he said he has found “far more questions and not a lot of answers.”

Without giving away too much of the plot, Freeman explained that the play is about Moss and Avis (played by Michael Hays and Mara Schaberg), a man and woman who wake up next to each other with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Their only contact with the outside world is their friend Wren (played by Lindsay Palinsky) who over the course of three days offers them different accounts of their pasts.

Freeman said the play shares a lot of themes with the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and has a similar feel to movies like “Memento.”

While the play is meant to make people think, Freeman wants audience members to walk away with more than frustration. “I’m hoping that they get a lot of the same questions out of it that I’ve gotten,” Freeman said. “Hopefully it will lead them to start bringing those questions into their everyday life, which I think will help lead them to a better understand of other people.”

’A Body of Water’

Theatre black box Nov. 28-Dec. 2 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday 2 p.m.
Sunday Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St., Lansing $12 (517) 482-5700

Giant steps
In a (slightly) less mind-bending production, this weekend Riverwalk will open a production of the family musical “Jack and the Beanstalk." Find out what happens when Jack plants some magic beans that sprout a stalk to the homeland of a sky-dwelling, socially inept giant who can only think of eating his guests in this show directed by Lansing theater veteran, Lee Helder (and starring her husband, Bill). 7 p.m. Friday; 2 p .m. & 4:30 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays Nov. 28-Dec. 14. Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Drive, Lansing. $7/$5. (517) 482-5700.

A very Williamston Christmas
Keep missing all your favorite holiday specials? Well then let Williamston Theatre keep you up on all things Yuletide with its own holiday tradition when it stages “Every Christmas Story Ever Told.” Joeseph Albright, Aral Gribble, Chris Korte and director Tony Caselli are back for a threepeat of this high-energy seasonal favorite, which the folks at Williamston swear won’t be back next year (or for many years after that). 8 p.m. Thursadys & Fridays; 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays Nov. 28-Dec. 21. Williamston Theatre, 122 S. Putnam, Williamston. $18-$24. 1 (800) 655-7469.

Help wanted
Icarus Falling Theatre Ensemble is looking for a few good seamen, pirates and crones for its upcoming production of Robert Brooks’ “Wappin’ Whart.” Auditions are 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, in Room 109 of the Foster Community Center, 200 N. Foster Ave., Lansing. Most of the parts are for men age 20 and older and women age 18 and older. The show runs Feb. 27 through March 15. For more information, call (517) 898-1679 or e-mail

Young actors interested in a smaller production may want to try out for All-ofus-Express Children’s Theatre’s production of “Stuart Little.” Actors between the ages of 9 and 18 are welcome to attend auditions 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 and 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 6. Auditions are at the All-of-us-Express rehearsal space in the Logan Square Shopping Center, corner of Holmes Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Performances are Feb. 13-21. 3 Jungle Jack For and Book more the April Beanstalk information, 16, 23, Nov 30 call 26 (517) & Dec 394-4118.