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Girl has odd imaginary friend in AWC play
While it is fairly common for children to have imaginary friends, the 4-year-old main character in an upcoming show at Arizona Western College has one that is not quite so ordinary.
“Mr. Marmalade,” the next play on the lineup at the AWC Theatre, is described as a dark comedy about a young girl named Lucy and her imaginary friend, who happens to be a businessman with a personal assistant, anger issues and a cocaine addiction.
Performances will be this Friday through Sunday and again Oct. 19-21. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.
“It's really for an open-minded audience. If you're not open minded, then you will judge the play a lot and you won't like it,” said student director and AWC Theatre major Alma Mendoza, 20.
“People who come see it have to understand that this is how younger generations are thinking. It's not strange for them to actually have these types of imaginary characters now because times do change. New generations have different types of imaginary friends because of what they see in society.”
Theater professor Chip Straley described the show as a strange and possibly controversial, funny and disturbing tale that will make people think. He noted, however, that the show contains adult content and situations and is not suitable for children under 13. Parental discretion is also requested for high school-aged students.
He said that every semester, he requires his students to direct a production and he pushes them to look for something that hasn't been performed recently at AWC.
“My policy is to not redo shows in at least the last 10 years. I want my kids who get a chance to direct to find something that actually speaks to them... I want them to develop their own style and vision and artistic persona.”
Mendoza said she chose “Mr. Marmalade” because it's strange and dark, but also funny at the same time.
“It really gets people thinking about why she has these imaginary friends and why she plays these games with them. It's a thinking play and it's really interesting. I really liked the reviews I read from the people that had performed in it or seen it before ... It still takes me, like, 10 times reading the script to understand it and put things together.”
Mendoza added that she has mixed feelings about being a first-time director. “It's really nerve-racking because as director you want to have it perfect, but I'm really excited to see this play come to life.”
She did note, however, that casting was tough as she had many great actors in the program audition. “It really came down to who played the part the best.”
Some of the characters are even double-cast, she said, including the students in the AWC Theatre program who have been selected to play 4-year-old Lucy.
Although Mendoza had her mind set on going into acting after graduation, she said this opportunity has sparked her interest in directing. “Once I dipped my foot into the directing process, it opened a whole new world for me.”
AWC Theatre does not charge for admission but asks for a donation of $10 to go toward the theater program, five articles of clothing for Crossroads Mission or five items of nonperishable food for the Yuma Community Food Bank.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.