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Keene State Drama Stages “Church & State”

Skye Robicheau, Christian Frazier, and Veronica Pamphile in 'Church & State'
Skye Robicheau, Christian Frazier, and Veronica Pamphile in 'Church & State'

Three days before his bid for reelection, a Republican US senator makes an off-the-cuff comment to a blogger that gets leaked on “the Twitter,” calling into question the senator’s stance on guns and God.

That’s the premise of Church & State, a comic play by Jason Odell Williams that’s being staged by Keene State College’s Theatre and Dance Department Oct. 8-12 at the Redfern Arts Center on the college campus. Tickets are $12, $8 for seniors and youth and $6 for Keene State students.

“I feel Church & State tackles the issue of gun violence with sensitivity,” says the play’s director, Keith Stevens, a lecturer in theatre at the college. “I appreciate the fact that it addresses serious, controversial issues in an even-handed way.”

Stevens adds: “The proposal in the play toward a first step forward is reasonable and strives to find a middle ground. The play imagines what it might take to finally get movement on an issue where the left and right have done a lot of yelling at each other to no avail.”

And in a way that’s neither dark nor dismissive. Williams writes that “a heavy drama about heavy topics doesn’t interest me. What interests me is a play that gets to the heart of the people around these issues. And when you write about people, you can’t help but let them be funny and sad and honest, heartbreaking, and uplifting all at the same time. Because isn’t that what being human is?”

The play’s cast includes Christian Frazier of Manchester, Veronica Pamphile, also of Manchester, Skye Robicheau of Plainfield, Reed Schatz of Bennington, VT, Allison Newey of Pelham, and Allison Bartolotta. Designers are Jayne Bernardi, Mary Robarge, Craig Lindsay, and Shane Horsman; the stage management staff is Anna Paula Fialho, Megan Marcotte and Jayson Cassetta.

Church & State will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8-12, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Oct. 12. For information and tickets, call the box office at 358-2168 or visit the Redfern’s website.

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