By AMANDA GRAY
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Zombies invaded Goshen’s New World Arts theater Sunday — and they will again, starting Sept. 21, when “Revenants,” a play by Scott T. Barsotti, begins a three-weekend run.
Auditions were held for the play at 2 p.m. Sunday at the theater. Director Laura Gouin said she picked “Revenants,” which focuses on characters Karen and Gary and their experiences as their zombiefied spouses are chained to the basement wall, because it fits in with the “End of the World” theme for this theater season.
“When you think of different things that can end the world, a zombie apocalypse is one of them,” she said. “It’s a fun, bittersweet love story — that also happens to have zombies.”
Gouin, who has worked with NWA since 2003, will be moving to Chicago soon. She said she sees directing this play as her “fun swan song.”
“This play is more like what I typically gravitate to,” she said. “It’s a dark comedy. That’s most true to life — in our darkest places, that’s where humor lets us out. That’s how we use humor.”
The play will speak to those who follow zombie lore, Gouin said, especially the lore that sees zombies as a critique of societal practices.
“The play speaks to society, and the degradation of society,” Gouin said. “NWA has always chosen plays that speak to a deeper message, and this does that.”
Brittany Gardner-Kennel said she feels the message of the play, and that it’s not really about zombies.
“It’s more about the relationship between Karen and Gary and their journey through the whole thing,” Gardner-Kennel said. “They’re struggling to understand if their infected spouses are still alive in some way. I fell in love with it.”
Gardner-Kennel said she has been involved with NWA productions, either acting or directing, for the last five years.
“This play is something great to ponder on,” she said. “It makes you ask, ‘What do relationships mean?’ It’s messing with what our perception of consciousness is, and what makes us human and separates us from being just instinctual.”
Michael Kennel also auditioned Sunday, and he said people may be attracted to the play because of zombies, but may get more than what they came for with the drama and story line.
“The zombies are more of a backdrop or looming idea than anything else,” he said. “The linchpin of the show is on relationships and living with regrets, about not letting opportunities pass you by. It’s a bit of a tragic love story.”
Beyond the zombies present in this play, zombies are also playing a part in the current fundraiser for a lift chair for the theater, according to Gouin. Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kits are currently for sale for $100, with all of the proceeds going to put in the lift chair.
“The kit would help you survive for about a week — as long as you run fast,” Gouin said with a laugh. “We just delivered our first batch, and we’re currently taking orders for our second batch.”
Gouin said anyone interested in helping out with the show or theater as a volunteer, or anyone else who wishes to audition, can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about NWA at www.newworldarts.org.