On Aug. 17, the Jasper Project will debut six plays in honor of the much-anticipated total solar eclipse that will grace Columbia skies. One play in particular, Visitation by Nicola Waldron, will transport the audience to future times and provide social commentary on the ongoing struggles of today and tomorrow.
The director of Visitation, Lindsay Rae Taylor, is a New York University alumna and current second-year MFA Directing Candidate in the Theatre Department at the University of South Carolina.
“I believe that Nicola has written an incredibly important and thought-provoking play. I am inspired with what she created from the idea of the eclipse—a happening that is rarely witnessed,” Taylor says. “I love how she uses the eclipse to note the passage of time and the change that is possible in our world before, after, and during such a unique event.”
Taylor describes Visitation as a timely piece that is set in South Carolina during May 2078. The play centers on the story of a mother fighting for a better life for her daughter—away from a misogynistic regime.
“The characters witness a solar eclipse and reveal to us what has happened in our world since our 2017 eclipse,” Taylor says. “It addresses the state of our nation and the possible repercussions should we continue on our current trajectory—specifically the effect it could have on women in our society.”
Visitation is set to feature some familiar faces from the pool of theatrical talent in SC. Marybeth Gorman Craig holds an MFA in Acting from the University of South Carolina and continues to act regionally while also teaching, directing, and performing at USC. She plays Mother in Visitation.
Kelsie Hensley recently graduated from USC’s Theatre Department where she was a featured actor in last year’s season. She plays Grace.
Dr. Andrea Coldwell is an Associate Professor of English from Coker College as well a veteran actor of Coker’s main stage productions. She plays The Custodian.
“We have a real powerhouse group of ladies in our rehearsal room, and it has been invigorating watching Nicola’s words come to life,” Taylor says. “When I had my initial meeting with Nicola, I felt we were kindred spirits, and I feel that energy among all of the women involved.”
Taylor says she loves that Syzygy marries art with science and encourages audience members to find perspective in thinking of one’s own place in the universe. Although she looks forward to the performance, Taylor anticipates speaking with individuals afterwards to learn how the play’s various messages and interpretations resonate.
“The piece has an ambiguity that I find thrilling. Nicola’s idea is frightening and relevant, and the poetry of her language is served from the extraordinary voices of this cast,” Taylor says. “It has been an enlightening journey and we are so excited to share this story with an audience.”
By Bria Barton