Clark Theater Goes Beyond Traditional with “Beyond Therapy”

Akira Serrano- Life Editor / Ieva Bračiulytė- Reporter

“It’s magic. I don’t know how else to describe it. You have to be onstage to fully understand it,” said Samuel Ruble, a lead actor in “Beyond Therapy.”

The comedy is written by Christopher Durang, directed by Mark Owsley and put on by the Clark College Theatre department. “Beyond Therapy” is about Bruce and Prudence, two individuals with polar opposite personalities who, with encouragement from their therapists, take another chance at a relationship after a disastrous first encounter.

“Bruce is a bipolar, bisexual mess” and an overzealous people-pleaser, Ruble said. On the other end of the spectrum, Prudence is an emotionally-guarded businesswoman, said Camille Theis, the lead actor who plays her.

The cast of six performed last Friday and Saturday and have three remaining shows this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Decker Theatre in the Frost Arts Center.

Tickets cost $9 for students with ID, $11 for senior citizens and $13 for general admission. They also can be purchased online, at the bookstore or by calling ticket sales at 360-992-2815.

“Clark County tends to want to see very traditional comedies and musicals, old-fashioned happy endings, nothing that’s going to shock them,” Owsley said. Clark has done shows that are “quite out there” involving nudity and controversial topics, but Owsley said that “Beyond Therapy” can be considered PG-13.

Theatre Department Program Director Gene Biby said, theater has always offered viewpoints and explore issues that might not otherwise be talked about in television or movies. He said, “Beyond Therapy” was written during a time when LGBTQ relationships were not a traditional media focus, and the play was, in part, a way to illustrate that.

Clark College is often the first and only people to put on plays that may be deemed controversial, according to Owsley.

Owsley expects the majority of the audience to be the younger population who are more accustomed to same-sex relationships. Clark’s older students tend to not be as accepting of these relationships, but Owsley hopes “Beyond Therapy” will change perspectives and open minds and hearts.

It’s always good, especially with LGBTQ characters, that their lives appear similar to the audience’s and we show them having typical experiences, Biby said.

Owsley said that “Beyond Therapy” is a very personal, intimate show. Biby also said that the subject matter portrays an important message: “you really need to be in charge of your own life,” that’s when “things work out for the better.”

Owsley wants to express the intimate feelings of this play by having much of the show performed at the same level as the audience. He said the play would even fit well with an arena theater, where the audience surrounds the acting stage.

Ruble and Theis agreed that the intimate setting of the theater made them feel at home.

Ruble said that the theater was there for him when nothing else was and it means a lot to him. He also said that the work he puts into theater is hard, but fulfilling.

Theis said that the arts are a place “where you find your family, where you find your purpose.” She said that theater was her life, but she took a break before joining Clark’s theater program.

Theater provides an opportunity to experience things, get lost in the production and live vicariously through the story, Biby said. He said those were some of the reasons he was drawn to theater in the first place.

Similarly, Theis hopes that the audience can laugh and get lost in the play. She says that “actors feed off of laughter and interact with the audience,” and that the more audience members they can have, the better.

Ruble spoke about the audience as an integral part of theater, “I once had a director say that the last character you add to any show is the audience.”

Clark Psychology Professor Tess Yevka, further encouraged students and staff to see the show. She said that laughter is “a well-needed break” for many students who are dealing with stressful situations.

Laughter is “like a mini meditation session,” Yevka said. “The people that go will certainly have a shared experience, just getting away and not thinking about other things and laughing in a group…it feels good, it can lift people’s spirits.”

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