A Slice of Sibling Life Comes to Little Theater
By Joanna Simpson

It’s a night when two sisters, Jamie and Jo, come down with a strange case of sleeplessness, and events take a turn for the surreal. Jamie is trying to sleep when Jo comes in and starts banging around, making lots of lovely farting noises, jumping on the bed, playing a gorgeous Con-like trombone in a very un-Con-like manner and doing everything within her power to awaken the deeply slumbering Jamie.
So begins Senior Josephine Stewart’s senior-project-production, The Last Nickel, going up Thursday night in The Little Theater.
The opening scene continues as Jo succeeds in waking Jamie with said trombone. Thus ensues a crazily familiar scene of one tired, irritated sibling trying to rid herself of the other ever-annoyingly-cheerful presence of a would-be-roommate.
You could have recorded a scene between any two teenage siblings and cut and pasted it into the show and not a thing would change. The bickering, bantering and shoving each other around the room and dancing to oldies was incredibly authentic. You would have thought the two girls had, in fact, grown up together, or at least have spent the last four years together.
Think again: sophomore Jessica Bedwinek and Josephine Stewart, who play Jamie and Jo , hadn’t really even talked before auditions.
But in the last few weeks, they have bonded quickly, sharing similar past experiences that they have ended up acting out onstage, They have also created their own new experiences together, including acquiring flaming red hair.
“They know more about each other than anybody else can or ever will,” senior director Ben Stuber, said, explaining the reason for the double role-playing. “Playing both roles you know more about them singly than you would by just playing one. You get a line into their shared experience and can be that much more deeply connected with them.”
Stuber also emphasized that this is one of the most collaborative shows he’s ever worked on. “My role as a director has not been ‘Do this.’”
However, Stuber contradicted his statement once, directing the play’s puppets, a weird and often ridiculous addition, to, “Go have fun.” This they did, and continued to do, even during the post-show interview.
“It’s hard,” said Junior Tom Taylor when asked about the puppeteering experience. “The puppet is in the scene…not me. I had to learn not to make facial expressions.” Christa Henderson joined Taylor in bringing the puppets to life.
The cast members are unanimous in their praises of Stuber and each other.
“He worked one-on-one with us,” Senior Josephine Stewart said. Other cast members also said they enjoyed working individually with the director and with each other. Many found the intense rehearsals to be the high point of their day. They found release in the comfortable, natural, encouraging and open environment had been created in the short time The Last Nickel had to rehearse.
It was an environment where you could, according to Stuber, “be real in a way you can’t always be.”
The phrase “bond or burn out” came up more than once and as they jumped on top of one another (literally…) it was obvious the crew had done anything but burn out. Their close connection is due, in part, to the intensive rehearsal schedule that the crew said made them “give up” their lives. But another is an intentional nurturing of relationships, which oddly enough is one of the most important themes portrayed onstage, and it showed through.
It may very well be. But as Stuber told me, it’s “simple, like a comic,” which means you can “pour a whole lot into it: intention, character, emotion,” and puppets too! And while the story is simple, it’s fundamental theme of caring for another person speaks to us all.

The Last Nickel, Hall Auditorium: Little Theater, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets availabe through CTS: $3 OCID, $5 other, $2 more at the door.

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