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A Clemson Players preview: Split in Three


Photo credit: Clemson Players promotional materials

Continuing from their fairly successful fall performances, the Clemson Players are preparing to top them all with their spring lineup. Amidst these shows is a play by Daryl Lisa Fazio entitled “Split In Three.” The show takes place in a poor Mississippi county in 1969 and centers on two white sisters separated by their beliefs who are greeted by their bi-racial half-sister when their school becomes desegregated. Together, they must grapple with the various misrepresented and twisted truths they’ve been taught and discover more about each other as individuals and as sisters.

So far, the Clemson Players have performed Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and their self-written performance, “Cast/Mistcast.” Their first production of the spring semester will be another show written by the Clemson Players themselves; a piece titled “Ten Million Dollar Melody,” making “Split in Three” their only production this semester with a previously-existing script. As much as the creativity of the Clemson Players’ self-written performances impresses me, I’m excited to see a return to a performance done with full attention to the acting as opposed to the creating. 

To get a better idea of what we can look forward to, we asked a Clemson professor of theatre and the director of “Split in Three,” Becky Becker, for some insight into the production process of the show. 

When asked what she found most exciting about putting on “Split in Three,” Becker said, “The playwright, Daryl Lisa Fazio, is a good friend of mine who has written a range of plays over the past 15 years. I’ve never had the opportunity to direct one of her plays, so it’s really exciting to have that chance, but especially with this play.  I’m looking forward to working with the cast and design team to create the world of the play, and the characters that inhabit it.” In addition to Becker’s directing, she says that Fazio herself will try to attend some rehearsals and provide some feedback directly from the source, which I can only imagine will give the cast that much more depth to their performance.

Of course, tackling a subject such as segregation provides a unique set of challenges in accurately and respectfully portraying the difficulties of the time. In today’s climate more than ever, topics of race and discrimination are looked upon critically and with many eyes. While that demands a deft and understanding execution, there are more resources to help assist one’s awareness now than ever before. Becker is well aware of this. When asked about the challenges the show will face during production, “I think the biggest challenge with this play is creating a space in which the actors can be honest and vulnerable. Some of the beliefs held by characters in the play are beliefs that the actors are likely to find really reprehensible. So, part of my role as director is to make sure that we can have open conversations and support one another as artists in order to tell the story.”

Becker explains that she has dealt with complex subject matters before, but she still remains fervent that her actors feel supported, and that the time period should be represented truthfully. “It can’t be sugar-coated.” Becker goes on to say. “The play does have moments of humor, so we will need to strike a delicate balance between the difficulty of the subject matter and the humorous moments in the play. Humor can be really valuable in the context of pain and conflict, but in order to strike the right balance, we will need to embrace each with vulnerability.”

“Split in Three” carries with it many lofty expectations, as the script demands honesty and skill from the cast and crew, with an impressive history of previous performances to elevate the expectations even further. However, the challenge only seems to excite the Clemson Players, desiring to show off the skills they’ve cultivated throughout their year of performances. Becker expressed her belief in the importance of “Split in Three” when stating, “I hope Split in Three will open up meaningful conversations about where we have come from, where we are now, and where we still need to go in order to become a space that lives up to what we would like to think our country embraces — ‘indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’”

With auditions for the show concluding earlier this week, the show’s production will begin to ramp up to full speed, preparing for their performances set for April 18 through April 24. I’m hopeful and excited to see just how well they execute this impressive piece.

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