Distracted at Dunham

Director Peter Cocuzza with the cast of "Distracted" at SIUEThe Department of Theater and Dance will be staging their production of “Distracted,” by Lisa Loomer this week from February 20th through 24th. The fast paced and offbeat play follows a family’s struggle to treat their child’s potential attention deficit disorder. Dealing with difficult subject manner in a somewhat comical way the play defies clear categorization.

“People will laugh but I don’t think it’s written as a comedy,” director Peter Cocuzza explained, “because of the quickness of changes in direction and changes in thought it comes out funny.

The pacing of the play provides an interesting texture to the piece with actors flowing seamlessly from one scene into another and breaking the fourth wall at regular interval. The time frame in which the events depicted take place is deliberately blurry and locations morph rapidly as one scene crams into another, in many instances having actors take on multiple characters without stepping off stage. The overall design of the piece is to give the audience a feeling for what it’s like to live with attention disorders or in a fast paced world where the next distraction is always lurking around the corner.

“The show’s so fast paced that you don’t have a scene before when you can get into a sad state, you have to go back stage, get into character, and run back on stage,” Ryan Wiechmann explained, “there’s really no break.”

The set design for the production also presented a number of unique challenges for the crew. Because of the rapid scene changes a minimalistic approach to design was taken, with the physical set consisting of a number of boxes that change purpose as the actors interact with them. The same cube can be a desk in one scene and then become a television in the next.

“The designer wanted it to not feel like a house, he wanted it to be more open because they go a lot of different places,” stage manager Meagan O’Neill explained.

To take the design further the crew is utilizing a multiple projector technology to establish setting and add to the feeling of distraction. The use multiple projectors in live performances is a growing trend, one that usually isn’t approached at the collegiate level. O’Neill explained that while they’ve used projectors in past performances at SIUE this is the first time to her knowledge that they’ve used multiple software synchronized projectors to this extent.

“We’re kinda breaking new ground with more technology,” Cocuzza explained, “ it’s a challenge because it’s something we’ve never done before, which is great.”

Tickets for, “Distracted,” are free to SIUE students.

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