“an amazing theatrical presentation…” TREPIDATION NATION


On its main stage, Douglas Anderson is presenting an anthology of trepidation-inducting phobias, with thirteen scenes running an average of about eight minutes long. We have all experienced trepidation at some point: a big word which encompasses agitation, anxiety, apprehension, dread, fright, nervousness, tremulousness, uncertainty, worry: the list goes on and on. “Whoa!” you say. “That does not sound like much fun!”

Ah, but under the skillful and creative direction of Bonnie Harrison, you will experience an amazing theatrical presentation and yes, the evening includes laughs along the way.

This stage treat has an interesting history. TREPIDATION NATIONTREPIDATION NATION debuted at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky during the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, and was performed as part of the Theatre’s apprentice program. The program is limited to twenty apprentices, who are chosen from candidates throughout the country; graduation from a college theatre program is a prerequisite. For each festival, the theatre produces an apprentice showcase: an anthology of short original performance pieces, written by a commissioned group of both emerging and established playwrights. Themes are specified by the theatre; past topics have included food, vacation, and space travel. The Dual Critics have attended over twenty-five Humana festivals, and have always found these performances one of the highlights.

Before the show and during intermission, an enormous screen at the back of the stage displayed images which suggested situations related to common fears. For example, sharks, snakes, spiders, a dentist, a prison cell, clowns, heights, a microphone, a burning building, and a silhouette of death in a black robe with a scythe were included. The experience was an effective way to involve the audience in the alternative reality of the stage that was to follow.

Each scene in DASOTA’s production has its own story about phobias. The opening scene had the full ensemble on stage in a dynamically choreographed selection called “Fear.”

The most humorous skit was “I Am Not Alone,” featuring Nathaniel Heustis and Elan Sandler. One of these young men is considering suicide by hanging, when the door bell suddenly rings; a pizza delivery man has come to wrong house. No spoiler here, this is one that will make you laugh.

“Naked Lunch” found Carmen Burbridge and Dylan Emerick having a dinner at his house while trying to rekindle a relationship. The surprise is that she is now a vegetarian and he has prepared a choice steak which he insists she eat. Complications? Yes.

Some of the other scene titles were “The Message,” “Down to Sleep,” “Joys of Childhood,” “Safe,” and “Phobophobia,” which in case you’re not familiar with the term, refers to a fear of phobias.

The entire large stage was used, with portable stages rolled on complete with the furniture or props needed for each scene. This made for a fast-paced show. Krista Buffington as Prop Head and her staff performed to perfection.

Trepidation Nation is an excellent light show with many special effects, and allows audience members to experience a recent extensive upgrade to the equipment and technology in DASOTA’s auditorium. The upgrades, made possible by the contributions of local philanthropist Lawrence DuBow, include new speakers and sound boards, as well as a new projector, screen, and digital mixer and two satellite dishes; the theatre has been renamed the Lawrence J. DuBow Theatre in his honor. Technical Director Matthew Kent, student staff, and Master Electrician Todd Collins with Nick Ciccarello did a marvelous job of creating visual excitement with the new technology.

We hope DASOTA will consider other Actors Theatre anthologies. We understand they are very popular with college theatre programs as they give a number of actors the opportunity to be on stage with monologues of short length but with meaning. Additionally, they provide audience members with an out-of-ordinary theatrical experience.

This show could not have gone as smoothly without the three Assistant Directors, Allison Svagdis, Jordan Gregson, and Brittany Bass. Gregson and Bass also doubled as Stage Managers.

The members of this excellent cast included: Olivia Bacon, Nathaniel Bangi, Carmen Burbridge, Lauren Conran, Juliette Deaton, Dylan Emerick, Edyn Gottlieb, Natasha Harrison, Cey’Wan Herah, Nathaniel Heustis, Amelia Jorn, Julia Lewis, Christina O’Brien, Preston Pittman, Sophia Rizzuto, Princess Damali Roberts, Elan Sandler, Kimon Shook, Allison Svagdis and Marisa Ubas.

During the performance a number of famous quotations about fear are projected on the rear screen. The most famous, which concludes the evening, is that of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Performances continue October 7 – 9 at 7:30 pm. For more information, call the Box Office at 904-346-5620, ext. 122.


About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

One comment

  1. Thank you for the great review! Correction to time Oct 7, 8 at 5:00 P.M., Oct 9 at 7:30 P.M Tickets $12 for students, $15 for adults.