“The Dining Room” isn’t your average play. It consists of 18 stories, all of which are set at a single dining room table. This place is where everything happens, from laughter to drama to romance.
Put on by The Workshop Theatre of South Carolina, “The Dining Room” will run this Thursday through Sunday night. Student tickets are $14 and the first show starts at 8 p.m.
“This is the type of show where the audience can’t zone out for a minute,” said Daniel Gainey, director of the play. “If you zone out for a minute you’ll miss a lot of the plot.”
The stories in the play range from a family helping their aging mother through Thanksgiving dinner to a girl sneaking into her parents’ liquor cabinet. In effect, the stories run the gamut of innocent and not-so-innocent family experiences.
Despite the quantity of stories, there are only six actors in the drama’s entirety. One actress, Ruth Galowaski, plays up to 10 characters.
“Making each character distinct has been a challenge,” Galowaski said. That very challenge is what proves alluring to the performers.
“Being able to play nine different people attracted me to the show,” said George Dinsmore, another actor in the play.
The set is constantly changing and evolving around the dining table. Actors switch from playing a grandparent in one scene to a child in the next.
“Every character is someone you know,” said Samantha Elkins, an actress who plays seven characters in the show. “It can range from family members, friends, co-workers and maybe even yourself.”
At its core, the play is about family and relationships. It focuses on the different connections that make each household unique.
“All plays are about human relationships, this is just another way to show it,” said Elkins.
Gainey likes how the play focuses on the tradition of the dinner table because it concentrates on a basic thing that people do. The characters in the play are not necessarily connected to each other, they’re connected to the place where they interact.
“A lot of the stories have to do with a family coming together at one place and at one time to eat,” Gainey said.
The actors in the play have no costume changes, so every time they play a new character, they’re just acting as a new one. They do it this way to focus more on how the actor brings out the character instead of relying on a costume to show the difference.
Rehearsal for the play began in August and the actors have been putting in five sessions every week since then. With only one rehearsal left, the actors are ready to perform.