NORMAN — The wooden framework for the setting of a small town sits illuminated on stage like a skeleton. At first stark and rather haunting in appearance, the bare bones of material quickly turns to possibility, when the drama students of Norman North High School spill out onto the set.
Their excitement and pride permeates the air at their first sighting of the finished set where they will soon perform the play they’ve been working on for weeks.
The production, “The Rimers of Eldritch,” set in the small Midwestern town of Eldritch in the late 1960s, is a whodunit with twists, turns and varying accounts from the townspeople. But it’s also a learning opportunity for the student actors, explained Jim Ryan, director.
Ryan said that the script — which was avant-garde at the time it was written by famed Lanford Wilson in 1966 — jumps wildly in sequence and tells a crime story through shifts in time, flashbacks and forwards.
The students have had to learn how to carry the weight of such a different story structure, said Ryan, drama and debate teacher at Norman North.
“We’re pretty focused on what it is that we’re doing and it’s quite a challenge with young actors where the story telling technique is not traditional to do something like this,” he said. “There’s been a lot of work that they have had to do in analyzing what to do, and what they say, in order to be able to even kind of know where they are in time and space, which changes from line to line sometimes.”
But he said the hard work pays off with this script.
Because it is an ensemble piece, the production is perfect for allowing all of the students to soak up the limelight, he said.