“Rain and Zoe Save the World” is the newest play hosted by the UAA Department of Theatre and Dance. UAA will be the first ever to perform the play on the main stage at the Fine Arts Building.
“Rain and Zoe Save the World” is about the journey of two teenagers who travel cross-country via motorcycle to join a group of oil protesters. Along the way, Rain and Zoe learn the possible dangers the world may experience.
The script was written by New York playwright Crystal Skillman, who entered it in as part of Earth Matters on Stage New Play Competition. Skillman’s script was selected by a national panel of judges and UAA, who is hosting the EMOS Conference this year on April 20-22, will get to be the first to perform the script.
Director, Ty Hewitt, and the actors have been using Skype, FaceTime and email to communicate with Skillman to make sure the playwright’s ideas are being brought to life the way she wants. Skillman will be in Anchorage a few days before opening night.
“When we did a run [recently] we Skyped [Skillman] in and she watched the whole run of the thing,” Hewitt said. “She sends me notes and I’ll send her notes and the actors generate a lot of questions like, ‘this doesn’t make sense,’ or ‘what is this moment?’ She’s probably done four or five revisions of the script since we’ve had it and that will continue… It’s a great challenge for actors to be familiar enough with your character and your character’s arc through the story and trajectory to be able to take a change and implement it late in the game.”
This production is Hewitt’s third time directing at the Department of Theatre and Dance; his other productions include “Eurydice” and “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”
With “Rain and Zoe” being a play that has never been done before, the actors get to originate the characters.
“It’s likely that, at some point, the script will be published. So if that happens, their names will go in that as the first actors that played that. I mean, that’s a great opportunity,” Hewitt said. “It’s really neat to be a part of, because there are no big-name stars [that] have done this before. They’re creating it themselves.”
While it’s a cast of only four, the characters in the script exceed that. Two of the actors will play multiple characters, ranging from owls and frogs to Rain and Zoe’s parents.
The show is UAA student and alumni-run; the actors are students, and the design, lighting, and sound is by students.
Hewitt called his cast and crew “very dedicated.” Rehearsals started in late February and are four days a week for over three hours each rehearsal.
Sophomore student Luna McCarthy landed the role of Zoe. She called the play “fresh and kind of controversial.”
McCarthy is no stranger to being one of the main stars in a production; she has fulfilled the roles of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” with Alaska Theatre of Youth when she was younger.
“I feel this play could really inspire people to just live in a new way and reestablish the connection they have with the earth and environment,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy was also part of the Alaska version of NBC’s “The Voice,” called “The Stars We Are.” She made it as a finalist in the competition and was later offered a gig at Arctic Comic-Con, but convention and the production overlapped dates. She chose to commit herself to “Rain and Zoe.”
“I just decided to give everything to this play,” McCarthy said.
Tai-yen Jimmy Kim, justice major and theatre minor, is making his UAA theater debut as Rain. This play is his last, as he’s graduating this spring. He’s looking forward to performing in the production and getting to create Rain, before receiving his diploma.
“This is the second brand-spanking new play I’ve been a part of, so it’s my second role I’ve gotten to originate and that’s definitely my favorite part,” Kim said. “I consider Ty [Hewitt] to be a friend, so to have him as director is also a plus.”
Tickets for UAA students are free, thanks to a grant. The tickets are “rush tickets,” meaning in order to attend the show, students should arrive 30 minutes early to get a free ticket at the box office with valid student ID. These rush tickets are available only on the day of the show and at the box office.
Tickets for non-UAA students are $19.99 for adults, $14.99 for seniors and military and $9.99 for students and are available at ArtsUAA.com.
Showings of “Rain and Zoe Save the World” are on Friday and Saturdays, April 20, 21, 27, 28 at 8 p.m. and Sundays, April 22 and 29 at 5 p.m. There will be an ASL interpreter on Sunday, April 22’s show.