Middletown reveals miracles in the ordinary

The Dramat show looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary.
The Dramat show looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Photo by Ihna Mangundayao.

On the surface, Will Eno’s “Middletown” is the story of an average small town — but the Yale Dramat’s second show this season will show just how miraculous the average can be.

Directed by Kyle Yoder ’15 and produced by Henry Tisch ’16, the play opens at the Yale Repertory Theatre on Thursday. It is a story of the everyday that is “all too often forgotten,” Yoder said. Although its protagonists are a husband and wife who have just moved to Middletown, the play evolves to become the story of everyone in the town — the story of the residents’ quirks and what makes them human.

Yoder said he chose the show because he thought it would appeal to a Yale audience in many ways — in a community where people are often looking for the extraordinary, he said, everyone could use a reminder to appreciate the ordinary. “Too often we fall prey to that mentality of getting through the week, to that lucrative internship, that great party this weekend,” Yoder said. “We jump from one fleeting moment to another, rarely — if ever — stopping to really appreciate the things in between those moments, the stuff that life is really made up of.”

Yoder added that the style of the performance is also fitting for a Yale audience. Rather than telling people what to think, Eno’s writing asks questions without providing concrete answers, a technique that fosters a thoughtful dialogue Yoder believes Yale students will find exciting and entertaining.

The Dramat Exes are typically some of the biggest shows on campus, Tisch said, adding that there are over 75 students working on the production of “Middletown.” The venue, in addition to the sizable cast and crew, has afforded the team the opportunity to experiment with a variety of performance techniques.

“The Rep offers incredible opportunities for both designers and technicians, and I feel that our team has been able to thrive in that environment,” Tisch said.

But the crew also faced some challenges as a result of the Rep’s unique set-up. Because the venue does not have a traditional set-up with curtains and wings, designers had to use the space creatively, said Steffina Yuli ’16, assistant producer for sets. But Yuli added that the crew was able to use the venue’s flexible nature to its advantage, as the story’s “everytown” nature requires a variety of sets — ranging from a library to individual homes.

Both Tisch and Yoder said that there are surprises in store for the audience, both in the physical set-up and the content of the play.

“We all question things in the every day, but we shove those thoughts aside because we think they’re not interesting enough, or because we believe no one else thinks that way,” Yoder said. “‘Middletown’ doesn’t pretend to give us the answers to those questions, but it does tell us that it’s okay to ask them. And it asks that we do.”

“Middletown” will run through Saturday.

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