Exploring Connections in "This Random World"
A funny, fast and heartbreaking play, U of I's newest production is filled with connections both on and off stage.
Forrest Sears may have only four minutes on the stage in “This Random World” but his brief cameo epitomizes the many connections that we make and we miss at the heart of the play.
Written by the prolific Steven Dietz and directed by University of Idaho Professor David Lee-Painter and theatre alumnus Daniel Haley ’06, “This Random World” is a fast and funny story of coincidence and human foibles.
Sears, an emeritus professor of U of I’s Department of Theatre Arts, portrays “The Gentleman,” a special walk-on part, in the 90-minute show staged Oct. 18-27 at the Forge Theater.
Even with 130 directing credits to his name, including 90 of them at U of I, and a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Yale Drama School, Sears said he took a deep breath when Lee-Painter offered him the cameo role.
After all, it’s been 46 years since he’s performed on stage. But ultimately, Sears’ professional curiosity won out.
“At first, I swallowed hard. But it was very generous of David to invite me,” Sears said. “It’s an interesting role that combines comedy, drama, pathos.”
Honoring the Lineage
“The universe gave us this opportunity to honor him,” Lee-Painter said. “Sears had a big hand in my being here.”
Sears was Lee-Painter’s mentor and brought dramatic development to U of I’s Theatre Arts Department – from helping to create a strong bond with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival through the Rex Rabold Fellowship to robust involvement in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
“His productions were always so strong – his ‘Incident at Vichy,’ ‘Marvin’s Room’ and ‘Tartuffe’ among others, set the standard for truth onstage that has become a hallmark of the work done — and the values held - by our acting program since his arrival,” Lee-Painter said.
By inviting Sears and other guest artists with U of I connections into the play, the rehearsal process is maximized as an educational experience allowing students to experience different approaches to theater craft.
A Unique Blend of Experience and Enthusiasm
Among the other participating Theatre Arts alumni are Haley as co-director, Ariana Burns ’09, ’12, serving as dramaturg, and Nancy Lee-Painter ’01, playing the role of Scottie Ward. Nancy was an MFA student under Sears’ tutelage.
“I love all those connections. It provides rich soil for a production to grow in,” David Lee-Painter said. “That mix of experience from our alumni and enthusiasm from our current students together is really rich.”
Sears and the other alumni join more than 30 cast and crew from the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, so their influence has substantial reach.
Taylor Telford, a freshman from Hailey in her inaugural U of I production, went into rehearsals not knowing anyone, but that didn’t last long.
“We were able to break down barriers very quickly through team building and trust exercises,” Telford said. “I’ve never done anything like that before.”
And, coincidently, Telford wanted to come to the University of Idaho thanks to a campus visit to see “A Christmas Carol” which starred Haley. The visit was arranged by her high school drama teacher, Karl Nordstrom ’06, who studied under Lee-Painter, the play’s director.
“It was so inspiring,” she said. “The puppetry and all made me see what’s possible.”
Senior Katy Sokol from Yakima, Washington, portrays “Claire” in “Random World,” a character in her mid-20s who is a little lost.
“She navigates through emotional peaks and valleys and she tries to connect with others and herself,” Sokol said.
She describes “Random World” as raw and humorous, mundane and absurd but in a realm you can relate to.
“It has a lot of universal truth,” Sokol said.
Article by Kelly O'Neill, Department of Theatre Arts
Published in October 2019
Showtime Dates & Times
- 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18, 19, 24, 25, 26
- 2:00 p.m. Oct. 20, 26, 27
The Forge Theater
404 Sweet Avenue, Moscow (across from the Moscow Transit Center)
- Free for U of I students
- $6 for non U of I students
- $12 for U of I employees, seniors (55 & better) and military
- $17 adults
- Available at the door 30 minutes before curtain or purchase by phone at 208-885-6465
Parking is free on the street and in the lot behind the Transit Center on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays.