Rainbow sequined go-go boots and death. The Swine Palace's production of "Airline Highway" is energized and almost ready.
The upcoming play "Airline Highway” is a zany story about remembrance, love and the kind of family you make, not the one you’re born with. In the play, which will run from March 21 to 31, a close-knit community of motel residents come together to hold a funeral for a burlesque queen before she’s even died.
Theatre freshman Sophia Brazda, who plays the part of Zoe, said the play is an amazing collaboration between undergraduate and master's students, with everyone trying to get into the mindset of their characters and work together as much as possible.
“These are people I’ve idolized since the first day I’ve got here. They were little darlings the first day, and I couldn’t stop smiling by the end of the first rehearsal," Brazda said. "I really feel like everyone’s little sister now. It’s just been wonderful. It’s a dynamic process, we’re constantly talking about character motivation and reworking the same things we’ve done thousands of times.”
Since rehearsal began in mid-February, the cast of about 20 actors has been practicing six times a week for four or five hours, getting ready as the performance approaches. Brazda says that they’re hoping for a large audience and that everyone should see it.
The play is set in the parking lot of the Hummingbird Motel, off New Orleans highway, where the residents gather to celebrate the life of Miss Ruby, a worldly woman who acted as a mother figure to them all and who wants to attend her own funeral. As the celebrations continue, the lives of the motel residents, including their disappointments and emotions, are delved into.
Brazda says that the central theme, remembering after someone is gone, is very affecting and is meant to change the audience’s outlook on relationships and the connections we form.
“At its core, it’s kind of a story of families being born out of the most unique of circumstances,” Brazda said. “You have all these individuals who have gotten the short end of the stick in their minds. They were thrown together over years and years and now they all live in this hotel together and it’s about that family dynamic and adults acting like total children because they are mothers and fathers to each other.”
Brazda said the play is a compelling story of resilience amidst hardship as well as a message about grief, love and how we exist in the memories of others.
“It’s a wonderful story about what humans do when put into situations, and our will to survive and our will to prevail,” Brazda said. “And our will to remember, that’s really what the whole thing’s about, remembering.”