The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Colby Morgan, Gina Carballo and Matt Cahoon at a rehearsal for Lungs. Kelly Sennott photo.

See Lungs

Where: Derry Opera House, 29 W. Broadway, Derry
When: Friday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 4, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $20

Important conversations
theatre KAPOW starts season with Lungs

By Kelly Sennott

A baby?

A baby?
I was just thinking.
Lungs is a play about a conversation between a man and a woman that tackles many things, but mostly whether or not to have a child. Opening theatre KAPOW’s eighth season, it addresses this year’s theme — “breathe” — in its very first lines.
“‘Breathe’ is a pretty heavy theme of the play. ‘Take a breath.’ ‘Think.’ It’s written in this very frantic way, but it works well for what we’re exploring,” said company co-founder and show director Matt Cahoon during a play rehearsal in Derry last week.
He and actors Gina Carballo and Colby Morgan were moving through the script at the Black Box Theatre at Pinkerton in preparation for the Derry Opera House premiere, with showtimes Saturday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 4. They wore casual clothes and, while they talked, sat within the confines of an 8-foot by 10-foot blue and white rug from HomeGoods.
The play, written by British playwright Duncan Macmillan in 2011, is one act, 90 minutes and features just two actors. Everything about it is minimal; there are no fancy lights, props or costumes, and the only set piece is the rug. Though there are hints the play occurs in the future, there’s no set time period or place either. Even the characters’ names are minimal — they’re called M (Morgan) and W (Carballo).
“The playwright is pretty explicit,” Cahoon said. “It’s written to be performed on a bare stage. There’s no scenery, no props, no furniture, no mime, no costume changes. Light and sound should not be used to indicate a time or place. Gina’s costume will look very much like what she’s wearing. Colby’s costume will look very much like what he’s wearing.”
Another one of Macmillan’s orders: put the audience in a vulnerable position where they feel like they’re part of the conversation. Theatre KAPOW is putting them on the Derry Opera House stage, in very close proximity to the actors.
“So there’s no pressure,” Carballo joked.
Added Cahoon, “There’s nothing to distract the audience, so it’s tricky. … I would say, typically a KAPOW show is five or fewer actors. We’ve never done anything this minimal. But most important of what makes a KAPOW show is really good storytelling, and this play is just so beautifully written.”
The intention of this minimalism, in Cahoon’s opinion: these two could be anybody.
“While this is a hyper-contemporary or futuristic play, you can imagine this conversation happening 50 years ago just as easily as 50 years from now,” Cahoon said. 
It brings up questions like, what does it mean to have a child? Who’s going to do what? What are the responsibilities? How can you have children and still do what you want to do outside of parenthood? And what does parenthood mean on a global scale?
“They’re a 30-something couple; they’re educated, and they’re super-neurotic people, very concerned about their future and what it means to bring a child into the  world they’re living in,” Carballo said.
Carballo and Morgan think the play’s so attractive because, they say, it’s so real. When they read through it the first time together in early September, they were struck many times by the content and conversations. 
“Even if you’re not a millennial who’s thinking about having a child — I’ve had a number of these conversations in the relationships in my life,” Morgan said. “I related more to the content in this play …  than any other play I’ve read in my entire life. … It’s just sort of full of the things we go through on a daily basis within a two-person relationship. If you see the play, I think you won’t necessarily feel like you’re watching a play — more like you’re watching a conversation.”

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