The Snowy Range Summer Theatre’s production of “Baby with the Bathwater” — opening Tuesday — addresses the follies of parenting in an absurd, and comical, way.
Starring student actors from the University of Wyoming’s Department of Theatre and Dance, the play tells the story of new parents, clueless in the ways of childrearing and prone to exaggerated extremes.
“It deals with one particular family’s unique dysfunctions and the ways in which they go about deciding to raise their child,” said assistant professor Patrick Konesko, who directs the play.
“They’re so worried about doing anything wrong that, as a result, they make a great many mistakes and cause a lot of problems for their child. It sort of explores the life of this child and the crazy absurdity of his family situation.”
That absurdity begins almost as soon as the child is born, when the parents think it rude to check the baby’s sex, decide to name it Daisy and proceed to raise the child as a girl, despite the fact Daisy is actually a boy, Konesko said.
“They make these decisions — very, very bizzare decisions — with good intentions, even though they’re obviously bad decisions,” he said. “And all of those have ramifications on this child.”
Despite the outrageous scenarios throughout the play, Konesko said parents especially would be able to relate to the strange thought processes of the parents on-stage.
“While these situations are of course exaggerated with the style of comedy that it is, these are things many parents, myself included, have thought about children at one point or another — the exasperating and painful and exhausting and scary,” he said.
The play does contain language and themes which might be unsuitable for younger audiences.
The Snowy Range Summer Theatre — now in its 65th year — performs 1-3 plays each summer, sticking to abbreviated but intense rehearsal schedules in which actors begin practicing eight days before the opening night.
Konesko said this schedule is common in the theatre-world, where most seasons run somewhat parallel to academic years, leaving the summers free for short, intense projects.
“The idea is to expose our students, and ourselves as well, to the rigorous demands of this style of theatre, the quick pace,” he said.
UW student Daniel Daigle plays the character of Daisy in Act Two, when the child is fully grown and is himself looking at parenthood.
Rehearsing every day, nearly all day, until opening night, Daigle said he enjoyed the intensity.
“I like the truncated rehearsal process,” he said. “It’s nice for me to be able to go in all day and just really focus on that and not have to worry about school and other things, and really just dedicate your time to the process.”
The most invigorating part of any performance is delivering it in front of an audience, Daigle said. That, he said, is what makes theatre matter.
“I love being able to just get through the rehearsal process quickly and get an audience in there and be able to interact with them, because they’re always going to change the performance in a way you can never prepare for,” he said. “And the audience is what makes it alive and what keeps it real and engaging and exciting, so I like be able to just plow through and get right to the good stuff.”
The intense focus required for summer theatre is good for actor, crew member and director alike, Konesko added.
“The pressure demands that you come up with interesting things really quickly, so the fact that you get to work all day is really rewarding because you don’t have to stop for classes or stop for jobs because this is your job,” he said. “The condensed rehearsal schedule demands that you think on your feet and come up with solutions to problems that you otherwise have weeks to figure out.”
“Baby with the Bathwater” begins 7:30 p.m. June 26-30 in the Buchanan Center for Performing Arts Thrust Theatre. Admission is $10 for the public and $7 for UW students, senior citizens and children older than 5. Call 766-6666 for more information.