arts   |   performances

'The Big Meal’ sits down with the difficulties of family, marriage, the American dream



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Student actors rehearse for the upcoming production of "The Big Meal," an independent play produced by University Players. The actors got into character and practiced their blocking for opening night, which is 7:30 p.m. April 19 in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center A200. Kevin Kratz Buy Photos

If you’re hungry for a family drama, University Players is presenting “The Big Meal” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 11:00 p.m. Friday in Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center A200. The production is free and open to the public.

“The Big Meal” follows the life-changing moments across five generations of a modern American family, all in less than 90 minutes.

“‘The Big Meal’ is a play about family and time,” freshman Kala Key, one of the actresses playing main character Nicole said. “You get to see their relationships throughout their lives and their family as well.”

The play takes place entirely in suburban restaurants and includes a dance number. Nicole and Sam are played by different actors, depending on what moment of their lives they are in. The audience only gets to see the characters at a restaurant.

As the show progresses, Nicole and Sam struggle to stay positive in their relationship with each other. The fear of their familymembers' death and mortality looms over them.

“When you’re young, time feels infinite,” Key said. “As they get older, you see Nicole and Sam try to hang on to their family.”

As Nicole and Sam age, family members die. Each death takes place onstage in the middle of the restaurant.

“This play deals with death in an interesting way,” Key said. “There’s Jell-O involved. That’s all you need to know.”

In the play, Nicole and Sam struggle with infidelity in their relationship, having kids and dealing with sexist, racist and problematic family members.

“Their relationship is not the strongest,” Key said. “There are points in the play where they teeter on the brink of breaking up. Then someone would die and they would get through that together.”

At other times, loud inappropriate arguments occur in the middle of the restaurant. Things that shouldn’t be said are said loudly, Key said.

Director and sophomore Hannah Keeler said as fun as the play is, the show is interested in showing how American institutions support sexism, hegemony and subvert the American ideal of the “melting pot.”

The show is also meant to criticize WASP, or White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant, culture.

“It shows how institutions of sexism and racism, how the negative effects of WASP culture, still trickle into our lives," Keeler said. The American Dream of the white picket fence is still haunting us.”

The play shows how discriminatory perspectives are passed down in a family, and how much effect these ideas have in even the most average American families, Keeler said.

“I want people to know it’s scary,” Keeler said. “The institutions of sexism, how that’s passed down in a family, that’s scary. I want audiences to find horror in the everyday.”

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