CURTAIN CALL: ACT’s Alabaster coincidence

Heartstrings and goats

Cindy Bilby (l) and Aimee Reed rehearsing a scene from “Alabaster,” which will be performed at Owens Community College beginning January 14.

Resolutions to start the new year are varied — to read more, to eat better, to exercise daily. To start the year with culture, community, contemplation and – well, goats – see “Alabaster” presented by Actors Collaborative Toledo. 

Written by Audrey Cefaly and directed by Fran Martone, Alabaster is a unique story of two women who have their lives turned upside down, coming together purely by coincidence to create art and, in turn, to heal. The cast includes four female actresses – two of whom play goats (yes, goats) named Wezzy and Bib.

Creating characters
“When I first learned I would be directing this play I was just thrilled,” Martone said. “I was honored to be trusted to do it and ended up with the most amazing cast ever.” Martone is primarily an actress but has also dabbled in directing for about 30 years. Her approach to “Alabaster” is organic, as she prefers to allow her cast to discover their own characters along the way instead of following direct orders. “My feeling is that the director has the most knowledge about the script,” she said. “But each character has the most knowledge about themselves. It’s the blending of those things that make it work.”

Toledo theatre veteran Carol Erford rehearses a scene as Bib the goat in “Alabaster.”

Finding the path
As with most plays, “Alabaster” comes with its own challenges. “It’s just digging out all the nuances,” Martone said. “Every time you go down a new path, Audrey has left you another crumb to discover.”

Perhaps most interesting is the usage of magical realism in the goat characters, which Martone will not fully reveal, but assures that is wonderful. “Although it’s a very dark play in many ways, there’s also so much humor,” she said. “I just laugh out loud, even after I’ve seen the cast do it several times.”

One of the underlying questions throughout the play is, ‘What does it mean to be seen?’ While the cast and audience might come up with interpretations, Martone has her own ideas. “It means that someone is willing to take the time to look and to know and to accept someone rather than projecting who you think that person should be,” she said. “Just accept and celebrate them.

“If anyone wants to start the new year in a contemplative way that’s both humorous and sad, if anybody has experienced bereavement in the last year, this is the play that will move them,” Martone said. “If anybody wants to see great acting and a beautiful story, this is the play to see.”

Alabaster is not for young children and contains mature adult themes.  Tickets $20, $15 for seniors, $10 for students. 8pm, Friday, January 14 and Saturday, January 15. 2:30pm, Sunday, January 16. Owens Community College Center for Fine and Performing Arts, 7270 Biniker Rd., Perrysburg. Purchase tickets online at act419.org.