SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

March 28, 2013

A comic view on survival, escape

Salem Theatre Co. showcases one-act plays by Beckwith

(Continued)

One of the plays, “Play for an All White Stage,” got its title and parts of its plot from the circumstances in which it was originally staged.

Beckwith wrote it during her residency in London, for an evening of short plays that was performed on a set designed for another production, “The Real Thing” by Tom Stoppard. Her actors were forced to remove their shoes so they wouldn’t get dirt on some white rugs, so Beckwith incorporated this element into the story.

“I wrote a play where it’s set in the Arctic, and everyone’s stranded and they don’t have shoes because they ate them,” she said.

Beckwith likes working within definite parameters, such as the immaculate, white set that she wasn’t allowed to disturb.

“Rules give you some sort of structure,” she said. “Writing is almost structureless because it’s so much to do with the relationship between you and the muses. It’s like weather, basically.

“I like following rules, and even more than that, I like breaking them.”

The appearance of “Play for an All White Stage” in Salem allowed Beckwith to connect with her past in a new way.

“As a joke, I told my dad, who’s never acted before, I said, ‘You should go audition,’” she said. “There’s one part in ‘All White Stage’ — there’s a dead body — I said, ‘You should go audition.’”

Not only did her father, Derek Beckwith, get the part of the corpse, but he was also cast in other works in “Split.”

“Obviously, I never imagined my father as the corpse,” she said. “It’s thrilling for me. He’s done no acting I’m aware of; this is his debut.”

IF YOU GO What: "Split -- Tales of Escape" by Nikole Beckwith When: Through April 14, Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. No performance on Sunday, March 31. Where: Salem Theatre Company, 90 Lafayette St. Tickets and more information: $25 adults, $20 seniors, $10 students, available online at www.salemtheatre.com or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111. There will be a Name Your Own Ticket Price performance today at 7:30 p.m.

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