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No reality is the same in ‘The Other Place’

From left, Jacqueline Reid, Scott Harrison and Celia Schafer star in “The Other Place.” (Courtesy of Wes Naman)

From left, Jacqueline Reid, Scott Harrison and Celia Schafer star in “The Other Place.” (Courtesy of Wes Naman)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — According to director Shepard Sobel, FUSION Theatre Company’s upcoming play “The Other Place” is a hard-hitting, quick-moving, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of experience. “It’s a good mystery,” Sobel said. “I didn’t know the play before FUSION asked me to direct it. This has been really exciting for me.”

“The Other Place,” which opens on Thursday at The Cell Theatre and on March 7 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, is a play by Sharr White about successful neurologist Juliana Smithton, whose life seems to be in disarray. Her husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man and her health is precarious. But everything isn’t as it seems to be.

“We ask what’s really the truth,” said Sobel. “Everyone in the play seems sure about what’s real, but their realities aren’t the same. The play has inspired a personal examination of my own life. It’s made me wonder what I have made up about my own past.”

“The Other Place” is a recipient of the 2010 Playwrights First Award and the 2011 Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation’s Theatre Visions Fund Award and was an Outer Critics Circle Award nominee for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. Presented in one act, the play moves back and forth in time.

Smithton, played by Jacqueline Reid, is on stage most of the time. She is joined by her husband Dr. Smithton, played by Scott Harrison, and characters simply called “Woman” and “Man.” The role of Woman is actually three different roles played by Celia Schaefer. Man, who is played by Peter Diseth, is also three different characters.

“We figured out why Woman has no name,” said Sobel. “She’s not named because she shows the progression of a journey of three different characters. We’re not totally sure if the same is true for Man.”

Sobel, the founder and former artistic director of The Pearl Theatre Company in New York City for 25 years, moved to Albuquerque in 2009. Since moving to New Mexico he has been a guest director at Hendrix College in Arkansas (“The Rivals”), Santa Fe University of Art and Design (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Count Dracula”) and the University of New Mexico (“Eccentricities of a Nightingale” and several Words Afire Festival productions).

Sobel directed “Medea” for the Vortex Theatre, “1776” for Landmark Musicals, and “Night Over Taos” for Camino Real. He has been an adjunct instructor at the University of New Mexico, Santa Fe University of Art and Design and Central New Mexico Community College and a guest lecturer, adjudicator or panelist at the University of Rhode Island, Baruch College, New York University and Yale University.

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