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A Poignant Look at Death

When Fred Motley, guest director of "The Shadow Box," was first asked to direct the play he jumped at the chance. It wasn't until later, when he re-read the story that he realized how close to home it hit. Under the direction of Motley, Averett's theatre department will bring "The Shadow Box" to life at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18-20 in Pritchett Auditorium.

"I realized as I was re-reading it that I had lost a brother-in-law to cancer, and I have a neighbor who has cancer and is now in the care of hospice," Motley said. "I didn't know the magnitude of the change the caretakers face. The families had to tremendously adjust their lives, had to watch their loved ones fade away. 'The Shadow Box' shows us the lives of people who will change forever."

"The Shadow Box" revolves around a trio of terminally ill patients, each of whom lives in a separate cottage at a hospice facility. The patients are being interviewed about death, which means the characters talk to the audience, as if they are the interviewer.

The first person dying is Joe, a middle-aged blue collar family man. While Joe has accepted his death, his Maggie hasn't. She hasn't even told their son his dad is dying. The second character is Joe, a bisexual professor who is being cared for by his lover. The third person facing death is Felicity, who is played by freshman Carmella Beane. Felicity is an elderly woman suffering from dementia.

To prepare for her role, Beane visited her great-grandmother in the nursing home where she studied the way people moved and how they sat in wheelchairs. She also researched cancer and how it affects the patients and their families. However, her biggest challenge was learning to lower her voice a couple of octaves because her normal tone of voice is higher than her character's voice.

"It's a story of encouragement for families," Beane said. "It's not necessarily a story of death, it's a story of the celebration of the lives of these people. It's a play that has a very good message."

Make plans to come see what is sure to be a very moving production.

Faculty and staff receive two free tickets on the night of the performance. Tickets may be picked up at the box office.

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