Cayuga’s Harlequin Productions Performing Docudrama The Texas Tower Project

Cayuga Community College’s student theatre troupe Harlequin Productions will tackle one of its most challenging plays in several years with this semester’s production.

After several semesters of comedies or lighter dramas, Harlequin Productions will take the stage this fall with “The Texas Tower Project,” by John R. Arco. Described as a docudrama, the play focuses on survivors of the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas and their memories of the traumatic event.

Shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27-29 and Nov. 3-5. Performances will be in the Black Box Theatre on Cayuga’s Auburn Campus. Tickets are available for purchase at the door.

Harlequin Productions Director Bob Frame said the script uses survivors’ own words, collected from interviews and police statements, to tell their stories. The script’s focus is on the survivors, not the shooter, and does not mention the name of the shooter to avoid drawing attention to him.

“The play is not a narrative, moment-by-moment description of what happened that day. Instead, it retells the day from the point of view of each character by using their own words, their memories and the emotions they experienced,” said Frame. “That’s why it’s described as a docudrama. It uses survivors’ actual words and emotions, but positions those memories in a dramatic setting.”

Frame was looking for a script that would challenge his cast to learn new techniques, and he thinks “The Texas Tower Project” will do just that. With more than 30 characters in the play, each cast member will handle multiple roles and work with a dialect coach to capture the appropriate delivery.

The cast of 10 has handled the challenges well, said Frame, particularly since the play is so different from their previous roles.

“This is a completely different learning experience for many of our cast. These roles were real people, not characters in a comedy, so there’s an added responsibility here,” he said. “They’ve done a great job of preparing to be different people onstage.”

The cast includes Hope Azzam, Dylan Bianco, Adam Birtwell, Alexis Fredette, Tessa Higgins, Carmen Liberatore, Mary Nila, Kadrian Rossbach, Kyleigh Walton and Grace Wiseman.

Harlequin’s performance of “The Texas Tower Project” will be the play’s world premiere. The company has performed a work by Arco previously in 2008, a comedy-mystery called “Dead Men Don’t Itch.”