WCU’s new Niggli Series presented “The Atrainplays, Vol. 2”

Synchronized students marching around campus wearing cloaks and masks on Tuesday, April 12 was definitely a peculiar sight to see – at least until students were able to see the showing of “The Atrainplays Vol. 2” from Wednesday, April 13 through Sunday, April 17 and understand what characters they were looking at.

“At first they scared me, and confused me. I thought they were advertising a scary play,” said WCU freshman Anna Sorrentino, who saw the characters marching around campus before opening night. “After seeing the play I still didn’t understand why the characters looked like that, but I enjoyed the play. It’s was definitely a memorable play.”

The cloaked and masked students were the cast and crew from the School of Stage and Screen, and they eerily strutted through campus handing out invitations of the play to bewildered bystanders, all as a means to advertise for their unusual play.

The play consisted of six short comedies each of which represent some of the best of the Atrainplays – a daredevil theater project in which playwrights created new work from scratch during the course of a single ride. All of the plays take place inside a single subway car on the A Train, one of New York’s most famous subway lines, or on the deck of the Staten Island Ferry.

The cloaked and masked characters illustrated each plays setting by posing in different positions in the background. During play transitions, the characters would strut across stage and pose in sync with the acoustic guitarist who sang and played to give the show an authentic “New York City” feel.

“I thought the masked people made the play seem mysterious,” said WCU sophomore Allison Hedrick. “I was really in tune to those characters, especially between the scene changes. I really liked the music too.”

The writers of the plays included Timothy Braun, Debra Castellano, Gary Garrison, Michael Lazan, Stephen O’Rourke, Craig Pospisil, David Riedy and Erica Silberman.

“[The writers] pushed their creativity to the limit to complete this experimental challenge, with their stories involving a wide assortment of characters from a homeless woman to a monstrous squid,” said D.V. Caitlyn, WCU associate professor of theater who directed the show.

The cast included WCU students Jack Watson, Tim Stoeckel, Tina DeSoto, J. Robert Raines, Alexander Volpi, Jordan William Snead, Jaclyn Helms and Tatjana Moffitt, and others.