The Chairs: Washburn play coming Valentine’s weekend

This play will make you think.

If you’re looking for an affordable and fun date night idea for Valentine’s weekend, consider going to see “The Chairs” at the Washburn University Theatre. Under the direction of Washburn alumni Jason Puff, “The Chairs” promises to deliver romance and comedy through the story of an elderly couple preparing their home for guests despite a nightmarish situation.

“I had been doing professional theatre in St. Louis until this past April,” said Puff. “An opportunity came up to go back to Washburn, and I decided that there was nothing I could do in St. Louis that I couldn’t do in Topeka. I’d like to bring the same energy back to the theater program that existed when I was a student and give back everything that I got out of Washburn.”

“The Chairs” is a chance to do this as those involved hope to bring a thought-provoking experience to the audience.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what people think,” said sophomore theatre major Angela Gray who is assistant director and stage manager of the play. “The story is sweet and funny; I love the moments when we feel connected to the audience through their genuine reactions.”

Puff describes the play as “absurdist,” which refers to the absurdity of things like life, conversation and relationships. An absurdist play aims to elicit a thoughtful reaction from the audience.

“If people ask me what the play is about, I’ll tell them ‘about an hour and twenty minutes,’” jokes Puff. “At the end of the play, there is an unescapable moment that will make the audience think for themselves. We want them to be able to genuinely experience this without direction.”

Leads Dalton Frantz, a junior psychology major and theater minor, and Isabella Martinez-Haskins, junior theater major with an emphasis in musical theater, will be playing the roles of ‘Old Man’ and ‘Old Woman.’ Elinor Sun is a freshman exchange student and English major playing the role of ‘Orator.’

“Because they’ve been so willing to take suggestions while personalizing the characters at the same time, it’s ended up better than we could have ever imagined,” said Gray. “The relationship between Dalton and Isabella’s characters is really very sweet, and I’m excited for the audience to experience that.”

Both Puff and Gray are looking forward to opening night for the cast to perform what they’ve been working on for so long in front of an audience.

“Going to the theater is a chance for students in different areas of study to see something they might not see otherwise,” said Puff. “This play will touch people and make them laugh and think. People need to come to see this for themselves.”

Opening night is Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. There will be additional performances on Feb. 15 and 16 also at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. Students, faculty and staff get in free with a Washburn I.D. and general admission is $8 which can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to show-time before each performance.