Thesis project betrays the norm

Alexandra McCall, Chase Knutson and Ben Hagensieker play characters Emma, Robert and Jerry in “Betrayal.”
Alexandra McCall, Chase Knutson and Ben Hagensieker play characters Emma, Robert and Jerry in “Betrayal.” Photo credit: UAA Department of Theatre and Dance.

A theatre student’s thesis project is a little bit different than the average thesis assignment.

Paitton Reid is graduating in just a few weeks. One of her final tasks due before she can grab her diploma is to see her production of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” in action with an audience.

“I’m very excited and more than happy to share this [production] with everybody,” Reid said.

“Betrayal” follows the story of a woman, Emma, who is married to her husband, Robert, but has an affair with Jerry. Jerry happens to be Robert’s best friend, and needless to say, things become a bit tangled. Unique to the play, the story is told in reverse chronological order, taking the audience straight to the chaos and then revealing how the characters ended up like that.

“It’s not the happiest of plays,” Chase Knutson said. “It’s fairly dark.”

Knutson, also a theatre major, plays Robert. This is his second production with UAA, his first being “Playhouse Creatures” last semester.

“[‘Betrayal’] has been my most difficult — as far as characterization and lines… but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

Alexandra McCall, Chase Knutson and Ben Hagensieker rehearse for “Betrayal.” Photo credit: UAA Department of Theatre and Dance.
Alexandra McCall, Chase Knutson and Ben Hagensieker rehearse for “Betrayal.” Photo credit: UAA Department of Theatre and Dance.
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Knutson hopes audiences leave asking “what did I watch?” as he says that sometimes the story can get a little confusing. The unique concept of using pauses in the play occurs throughout and is one Reid found particularly intriguing and ultimately made her choose this play as her thesis project. Harold Pinter wrote the pauses when creating this play; they are to be treated as beats, moments or a sort of action in order to make them fulfilled.

“[The pauses are] in such a way that you’re trying to find value in what that moment is, and I think that’s what’s sort of useful about them — knowing that, that pause is there and that it was intended to be there — it’s figuring out ‘well, how do we use it?’” Reid said.

Reid has acted in a few plays at UAA and is no stranger to the title of director. She has directed productions of “Woyzeck” and “The Perfect Red,” too. After college, Reid plans to continue pursuing theatre, whether that looks like an internship, grad school or another theatre-related opportunity.

Rehearsals for “Betrayal” started in mid-March and the cast and crew are getting ready for opening day. The play will be shown at the Fine Arts Building’s Harper Studio Theatre for three evenings only, April 19 – 21. April 19 and 20 are at 8 p.m., and April 21 is at 5 p.m. Adults, seniors and military tickets are $9.99 and student tickets are $4.99. They can be purchased at ArtsUAA.com.

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