Theater production reveals message on self-image

Carter, played by Logan Sapp, freshman from Owensboro, Ky., taunts Tom, played by Travis Sams, senior from Booneville, Ind., about his secret girlfriend while acting out a scene in “Fat Pig” at a rehearsal Wednesday night. || Kristen Allen/The News
Carter, played by Logan Sapp, freshman from Owensboro, Ky., taunts Tom, played by Travis Sams, senior from Booneville, Ind., about his secret girlfriend while acting out a scene in “Fat Pig” at a rehearsal Wednesday night. || Kristen Allen/The News

Carter, played by Logan Sapp, freshman from Owensboro, Ky., taunts Tom, played by Travis Sams, senior from Booneville, Ind., about his secret girlfriend while acting out a scene in “Fat Pig” at a rehearsal Wednesday night. || Kristen Allen/The News

Murray State’s theater department will be presenting “Fat Pig” by Neil Labute in the Wilson Hall Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m. The play premiered Thursday and will run until Tuesday night.

The story follows a man who falls in love with a plus-size woman. He must learn to must handle the criticism he is faced with from his friends and colleagues.

The theater in Wilson Hall is utilized twice a year for productions. Known as a black-box, it allows for a more intimate setting. According to “Fat Pig” director Lissa Graham, the theater is essential for both the cast and audience to experience a more serious environment.

Lead actor Travis Sams, senior from Booneville, Ill., believes the show has a serious message. Due to the show being held in Wilson Hall, which holds fewer seats than the Robert E. Johnson Theatre, the performances allow the audience to be more engaged and driven by the message.

“It is more about subtext and tiny expressions,” Graham said. “It is the type of play that might not read well on a larger stage and therefore calls for the more intimate space of a studio/black-box type of arrangement.”

There are four students in the cast, two student designers and approximately 15 students who work as backstage crew. All have been working since late January to make the production a success.

Brent Menchinger, associate professor of the department of theater, said being the scenic and lighting designer for the show brings its own set of unique requirements.

The performance in Wilson Hall brings the performers to eye level with the audience.

“It is a great honor and opportunity for me to be able to do this as a student,” said Barbara Kiester, costume designer and senior from Charlestown, S.C. “This play is a social commentary on fat and body-shaming. It has been great to be able to be involved with something that has the possibility to create social change.”

The students have dedicated several hours for six days a week to practicing, and the cast has spent hours memorizing lines outside of rehearsals.

“Not only does memorizing lines take a lot of time, but getting into character can be tricky as well,” Sams said. “(My character) handles many situations in an entirely different manner than I would, so I have to take myself completely out of the picture and think about what the character would do.”

The play “Fat Pig” was chosen because it addresses the issues of obesity and self-image. Graham felt these are not topics that are typically addressed, but are a big deal in today’s society.

“With all the discussion of obesity in America, there does not seem to be as much discussion of the complete opposite alternative which is in many ways an over advertised unhealthy promotion of being too thin,” Menchinger said. “This play also deals with stereotypes, another form of hate and inability for society to deal with anything different.”

Graham also felt it was appropriate that it is National Eating Disorders Awareness month and said there will be an informational display in the lobby that was made by students in the theater department.

Story by Kelsey Randolph, Staff writer.