Home Lifestyle Fine Arts Norma’s Rest brings personal connection to audience

Norma’s Rest brings personal connection to audience

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Photo by: Sophia De La Rosa | Staff Photographer
Ashley Hildreth, starring as Norma, comforts Gracyn Lewins, playing as Ferret, during a rehearsal of Norma's Rest on March 1.

Norma’s Rest follows the unique journey of a half-way house, occupied by dark pasts but glued together by the gutty, spirited, cancer-stricken character of Norma.

Texas State’s Department of Theatre and Dance presented award-winning play Norma’s Rest  March 3-6, in the PSH Foundation Studio Theatre.

In 2014, Norma’s Rest won the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Ken Ludwig Award for the best body of work.

After being invited back to present Norma’s Rest at this year’s festival, Jordan Morille, playwright of Norma’s Rest and theater lecturer, decided to turn his one-act into a full play.

Morille said his writing process for the full length version of Norma’s Rest was unique. Instead of adding a second act, Morille wrote a completely different one-act.

Photo by:  Sophia De La Rosa | Staff Photographer
Photo by: Sophia De La Rosa | Staff Photographer

“It was just sort of the way to get it out,” Morille said. “I didn’t have quite an idea for a full-length play yet, but I knew I had a subtle one length act idea and whenever it came time to turn it into a full length it was just a different process.”

Rocky Hopson, Norma’s Rest director and theater graduate student, said he hopes audience members find a deep connection with the characters.

“We worked hard on making the characters three-dimensional,” Hopson said. “We wanted to give them different levels, and since the studio is a smaller space audience members should hopefully feel the connection.”

Susanna Lawrence-Maze, San Marcos resident, said she felt the emotions of the actors through the evening and that the experience was “incredible.”

“I think it was very clear this cast put a lot of effort in making sure they presented their characters emotions the right way,” Lawrence-Maze said. “It was very inspirational.”

Andrew Elios, New Braunfels resident, said the close-knit space of the studio theater provided a more intimate interaction between audience members and actors.

“I know it can make some people uncomfortable,” Elios said. “But I believe there is something very special about being able to be so close to what you’re seeing. It takes you away, and puts you in the show.”

Hopson said his favorite part about the process has been being able to work alongside the playwright behind the production.

“It’s the very first time this play has been produced or performed,” Hopson said. “It’s been very nice being able to work alongside Jordan and having the opportunity to talk about how things will come to look on stage.”

Lawrence-Maze said the characters’ dialogue connects deeply with some of life’s greatest endeavors.

“It was really a journey,” Lawrence-Maze said. “The characters, especially Tennessee, help you explore different perceptions of values in life. It was very difficult to hold back tears during some of these characters monologues. Everybody around me was teary-eyed.”

Lawrence-Maze she said she appreciated the diversity added into the show.

“I think (diversity is) a good thing,” Lawrence-Maze said. “It was a great depiction of what our society is dealing with right now. It’s important for us to acknowledge that.”

Morille said the main message of Norma’s Rest is to find a sense of self and to not judge others, but embrace them instead.

“I really want people to accept the mistakes they have made in the past and accepts others for their mistakes,” Morille said. “There’s a big difference between acceptance and tolerance.”

Morille said he hopes audience members will take away a greater understanding of themselves and other people around them.

“I really want people to come away from this experience with a better understanding of what it means to truly accept themselves, and others for who they are rather than what they’ve done,” Morille said.