"Getting Out" is the fall production by the Minot Area Theatrical Society, opening tonight at the Vegas Motel at 7 p.m.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marsha Norman began her writing career in 1979 with this play, based on her experiences working with disturbed adolescents in Louisville, Ky. MATS finally agreed to produce the drama when director Christine Morse, who has long wished to work with this show, mentioned that she expected it to be her final show with MATS.
"I'm separating from the Air Force, so now is the time," Morse said. "This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, both to direct it and act in it. It's been my audition piece since high school."
The story follows the recent release of Arlene, played by Morse, from prison after serving eight years for prostitution, drug use and second-degree murder. Arlene is most interested in getting away from the life that led her to prison, and her memories are the core of her musings and flashbacks. The characters include young Arlie, played by Amanda Kraft, and her mother, played by Kit Young. Prison officials are played by Damien Walsh, Penny Lipsey (in her first full production with MATS - "At least where they let me show my face!" she said, referring to an earlier production) and Stephen Young.
Everyone she thinks of or knows reminds Arlene of her former life, such as her pimp, portrayed by Kirk Nybakken, who returns after her release to get her back into "the life."
"She doesn't want to be that person again," said Morse. "She looks at events in her life and sees herself dealing badly with anger in school, for example. She had a fight with Ronnie (played by Jacob Borja) which the school principal (MATS newcomer Roxanne Arthur) mediates. She (Arlene) realizes she was a viscous, mean, ugly, ugly person.
"There is definitely a message and I believe people will get something out of it. You can change, you can be a better person than you are. Arlene was a very closed person, but in the end she allows her friendly neighbor Ruby (Heather Veldhouse), to become close. She takes her wall down to allow Ruby in."
Although as in life, there is no simple answer, the play ends with Arlene and Arlie talking on stage. Morse said, "Arlene is allowed to be OK with who she was."
Jon Plasak is Morse's assistant director, with Cassie Rech handling the sound and Les Younger the lights.
Thursday is a show-only night at $8 for adults and $5 for seniors. The other shows are $20, with Friday and Saturday including dinner and Sunday including lunch. Evenings all begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling 509-5215.
Audiences are warned that this is considered an adult show, not suitable for children.