CLEMSON — The Clemson Players and Clemson University performing arts department present the musical “Working” in the Brooks Theatre from Feb. 20 through Feb. 23.
Based on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of interviews with American workers, “Working” paints a vivid portrait of working men and women: the schoolteacher, phone operator, waitress, millworker, mason and housewife, among others.
“The theater faculty members choose the Clemson Players’ season of productions,” said director Shannon Robert. “We felt ‘Working’ would be good material for our students. It is challenging, it has artistic merit and it has new songs written for the recent Chicago revival, so there is a freshness that makes it exciting for audiences today.”
Robert says she likes the working class and domestic points of view of this piece.
“So often, musicals are glitzy and splashy,” she said. “This has some very grounded pieces that allow the actors to approach characters in a real way. These characters are based on real people; they are not larger than life, not stereotypes or caricatures.”
As with the Clemson Players’ production of “The Laramie Project” earlier this year, part of the challenge of this piece will be the multiple roles that each actor plays. For this reason, costume changes and transitions have to be meticulously tracked, and actors have to be even more aware of their characterization and choreography.
The theater space itself, which is much larger than usual for Players’ productions, also serves as a learning opportunity. Robert said students will need to adapt to a much larger style of acting, both vocally and visually.
Nevertheless, she welcomes these challenges.
“I am most looking forward to watching the students grow and make discoveries along the way,” she said. “It is always so much fun to see their journeys from the first day of rehearsal through the final performance.
“When actors connect with other members of the ensemble and discover what their characters really want and need, and keep those desires alive and active for the audience, it is really exciting.”
“Working” will be presented at 8 p.m., Feb. 20 through Feb. 22, and concludes with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. Feb. 23.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and are available online at www.clemson.edu/Brooks and through the Box Office at 864-656-7787 from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.