CLARKSVILLE — A Clarksville community theater company is returning to the stage after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Drama Studio will present Neil Simon’s 1963 comedy “Barefoot in the Park” Nov. 12-14 in the St. Genesius Theatre at 128 E. Bell Ave.
This will be the company’s first show since the pandemic started.
The show is the story of newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter as they begin their life together as a married couple and move into a new apartment.
The Drama Studio was founded in 2005 by artistic director Debra Rice Endris as part of the Southern Indiana School for the Arts. After a hiatus, the small theatre company resumed in late 2018 with modern retellings of fairy tales, which were original shows written by Endris and The Drama Studio Assistant Director Grace Robertson.
“Our real drive, our mission, our goal was to create a theater experience that is going to be significant in some way — we are community theater, and we want to give our community something to think about, something to chew on while being entertained, while also furthering the art form itself,” Robertson said.
Before the pandemic forced The Drama Studio into a hiatus, they were preparing for the show “Red,” a play about the artist Mark Rothko. However, it is a serious show, Robertson said, and they thought the community would want something lighter amid the pandemic.
“We want people to come and laugh with us and just forget about things for a while,” she said.
Robertson describes “Barefoot in the Park” as “hysterical,” saying the cast was “cracking up every other line” during the read-through of the play.
Although it is a comedy, The Drama Studio aims to look beyond just the humor of the show.
“Our director has a saying — she loves to say every show that you can’t have the good without the bad, and you can’t have joy without sorrow,” Robertson said. “In a heavy drama, we look for the light moments. It’s also true of comedy — look for the sorrow in these things, which is what really brings the humor out.”
“The great thing about the show is that it’s ultimately about people — it’s about a married couple trying to figure things out, and it’s a very real and relatable experience to a lot of people,” she said.
The theater company strives to offer high quality with each production, Robertson said.
“It’s more than just memorizing lines or remembering where to walk onstage,” she said. “We spend a lot of time rehearsing, doing character work and really getting into the character’s heads. We’re talking about what the show really means.”
It has been exciting to put finally put together a production after more than a year and a half, she said.
“I have just been excited to get back in a space to work with people — it’s just a fun, shared experience,” she said. “I know with comedies especially, when you get an audience there with you, they really come alive. It’s just a great feeling to have a group of 90 people laughing along with you because of something you did.”
Robertson said the company of “Barefoot in the Park” have all been vaccinated against COVID-19. The show will not require proof of vaccination, but all audience members must wear masks regardless of vaccination status.