The play features a somber discussion between a mother and daughter about suicide

GARY ALLEN - The Chehalem Players Repertory will host the Pulitzer Prize winning play "'night Mother" through Nov. 11.

What may seem like somber subject material will actually be a study of human relationships and family communication in a play that kicked off Friday at the Chehalem Cultural Center.

"'Night Mother," a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Marsha Norman, will continue through Nov. 11 and is presented by the Chehalem Players Repertory.

It plays over the course of several weekends. On Friday and Saturday and Nov. 9-10 it begins at 7:30 p.m.; on Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 it plays at 2 p.m.

Director Steven Koeppen said the play features two actors, a mother and daughter, and centers around the daughter telling the mother she plans to commit suicide that day.

The daughter, Jessie, explains her reasoning to her mother, Thelma, throughout the course of the play: she is epileptic, divorced and generally unhappy with life.

Koeppen said one of the actors brought him the play, as it was on her bucket list to perform in, and he said he thought it was an important subject matter to the time.

"The play fleshes out what the mother and daughter should have been talking about for years," he said.

Koeppen said he recently attended a speech where a psychiatrist was talking about depression and suicide, and the message was that it's normal and OK to feel sad at times.

He added that the script is about more than just suicide, but about the relationship between the mother and daughter, and the influence parents can have on their children, for better or worse.

In addition to winning a Pulitzer, "'night Mother" was made into a movie and was nominated for a Tony Award for best play.

Koeppen said the play has no intermission and a giant clock on stage keeps real time of their conversation. And aside from a few moments where the daughter character leaves the stage, it's the two characters talking the entire time.

Koeppen said the tiny confines of Black Box Theater, which only seats 32 people, will make for an intimate show.

"We're recommending people go online (for tickets) to guarantee having a seat," he said. "It's intimate and the audience will be drawn in because of the intimacy. The audience is close enough that they can feel the emotion."

Although it's a two-person show the troupe began preparing for the show about six months ago with table reads for actors Virginia Kincaid as "Thelma" and Meghan Daaboul as "Jessie."

"We discussed their relationship, what caused the mom to say things to the daughter," Koeppen said, adding that the mother could be harsh one minute and give good advice the next.

The hope is the play will leave audiences thinking about the connections of family, as the play points out that families are not something people can choose.

"In talking to people we've really tried to tell people that (suicide) is not the whole focus of the show, it's about relationships and building trust and how we view ourselves as a parent or child," he said.

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