Uncommon Opportunity 12

CMC’s Sopris Theatre Company Produces a Celebrated Coming-of-Age Comedy

How is anyone just suddenly supposed to know what to do with their life?

It’s an age-old question. Actresses treading the boards at the New Space Theatre are pondering this quarter-life conundrum all month long, through their characters, as they rehearse for Sopris Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “Uncommon Women and Others” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein. The play, featuring an interrelated collage of scenes, follows a group of college friends reunited in the years after graduation as they recount their formative experiences together. It opens December 1.

Tucked among the rolling hills of Missouri Heights on the Spring Valley Campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), the New Space Theatre is an off-the-beaten-path venue that’s home to a relatively new troupe which many local performing arts patrons may still know little about. Sopris Theatre Company operates as a hybrid program, combining the experienced talents of community artists with the fresh eyes and eager hearts of CMC students. The results are an intergenerational blend of voices performing in the company’s diverse, ambitious five-show season each year—and a dynamic learning experience for the student actors.

The cast of 10 women includes graduates of CMC’s associate of arts theatre program, current theatre majors, environmental science and business majors, an acting newbie studying psychology, and even CMC Vice President and Dean of the Roaring Fork Campus, Heather Exby.

Exby, who grew up immersed in the wonders of community theatre thanks to her parents, notes that “like all the fine arts, I think theatre allows us to engage in thoughtful exploration of what it means to be human. It challenges us to think and feel deeply about how we live and what makes us tick.”

To explore the nooks and crannies of the human experience: Perhaps this is why community artists seek involvement with a group like Sopris Theatre Company again and again, and why young students choose to pursue studies in the performing arts field.

“Theatre fosters the best in people,” says Ciara Morrison, a theatre program grad who dreams of running her own acting company someday. “It helps its participants to learn patience and teamwork. Theatre brings people together and helps them digest a little crumb of the world, through stories.”

Suzie Brady, a current theatre student with plans to pursue a master’s degree in stage management, adds that sometimes the draw is in “the exchange of energy from performer to audience member and back again,” which she says “is so unique and special—it really can’t be described, but the rush is amazing.”

Or, for these actresses, the pull of the stage might come down to something even simpler: joy.

“It’s a treat to spread joy,” says program grad Paige Ulmer. “To have the audience leaving the theatre feeling refreshed. The goal is to connect with the audience, have them take something meaningful with them when they leave.”

Having premiered off-Broadway in 1977, “Uncommon 
Women and Others” is sure to deliver meaning to contemporary 
audiences, the cast agrees.

“The play provides an intimate glimpse into the tensions and opportunities that were present during the first wave of feminism,” Exby says. “Women’s colleges were both a vestige of the past and an incubator for women’s liberation and independence: a point of great tension that is explored with tenderness and realism in Ms. Wasserstein’s play.”

Although many things have changed in the four decades since the work was first mounted in New York City, some things haven’t. As business major and student actor Makena Seaver says of the characters’ bonds and struggles: “As long as you have some good friends, you’ll be just fine.”

And that’s the truth, whether you know what you want to do with your life or not.

“Uncommon Women and Others” is directed by Brad Moore and runs the first two weekends of December. Sopris Theatre Company’s 2017-2018 season continues in the spring with “Red,” “Cabaret,” and an original student workshop production. For full details, visit ColoradoMtn.edu or follow Sopris Theatre Company on Facebook.