‘Six Degrees Of Separation’: UAFS actors consider ‘threads of chance’

‘Six Degrees Of Separation’:  UAFS actors consider ‘threads of chance’
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com


Jaylin Williams might be the Fort Smith native making the biggest name for himself right now as a forward on the winning Razorback basketball team. But Daniel Myers hopes it won’t always be that way.

Myers has been honing his craft at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith since he was 9 years old and now, still a semester away from graduating, he’s playing the lead in “Six Degrees of Separation” on the UAFS stage and has already appeared in a CarMax commercial basketball fans have probably seen on ESPN. He thinks theater fans ought to come see his show March 16-19 because “underdogs have been coming out on top” during March Madness, and he thinks that the UAFS theater program also outscores its rivals.

Malcum Nobles, from Pea Ridge, agrees, saying he chose UAFS because he wanted a theater program that consistently put out “high quality stuff,” and the smaller school in the River Valley consistently creates innovative shows that perform well at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival.

Covid 19 has obviously made that more complicated, but the UAFS program has a new assistant professor of acting and directing, Sally Shirin Story, and is finally back on stage with John Guare’s comedic drama about “the threads of chance that link one person to another.”

Based on a true story, the premise of the play is that a con man named Paul manages to convince a series of New York socialites that he is the son of actor Sidney Poitier and will use his familial ties to cast them in the feature film production of “Cats.”

“I think this show is relatable to so many people,” says Story, its director. “Essentially, it’s about how vulnerable people are and how easily they can be taken advantage of when they are being promised certain things; however, there’s an alternate side to the play from Paul, the con man, himself. Paul truly wants to be accepted by someone, anyone.”

“He’s a lost boy trying to find a home,” says Myers, who portrays Paul. “He lives in this world he’s created with his imagination. He’s not necessarily bad; he has the potential to be something greater than he is.”

Myers hopes that is true for himself too. He started studying voice at UAFS in 2009 as part of the Academy of the Arts program for children, singing in choir, jazz choir and chorale, and appeared on stage for the first time playing the lead in “Robin Hood.”

“Acting became my dream,” he says, and he was accepted to study drama at Columbia College in Chicago. Funds fell short, and he has made the most of his time at UAFS by preparing for life after his degree. He already has an agent in Little Rock and has worked in two commercials, including the one that’s been airing on ESPN for CarMax.

Daniel Myers (from left), Brieana McAfee, Malcum Nobles and Gavin Garrett rehearse for the UAFS production of “Six Degrees of Separation.” The title refers to a statistical theory which states that any two people in the world can be connected through only six other people. (Courtesy Photo/Jamarion Davidson)

“I am setting myself up for success,” he says.

Nobles, who fell in love with theater when he took his first drama class at Pea Ridge High School, is planning on attending a graduate school where he can also study film. But first, he’s portraying one of Paul’s victims, Flanders Kittredge, a wealthy art dealer who has become jaded by greed and sees this opportunity presented by Paul as a panacea for his ennui.

“When he meets Paul, he sort of has an epiphany about life, but then it’s all shattered when he discovers it’s a lie,” Nobles says of his character, adding he approaches every performance “like it’s the first time I’m saying the words.”

“Theater when done right can be magical,” he says, “and I feel like the more we as a community can experience something like that together, the better we’ll be.”

Story, the director, encourages audiences to try the show if they’ve never seen a play at UAFS.

“Live theater needs an audience to thrive; we feed off the audience’s energy and vice versa,” she says. “My job as a director is to tell the story to an audience as clearly as I can while keeping the playwright/lyricist’s intention in mind. I serve the audience, first and foremost. Otherwise, why else am I doing this?”

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FAQ

‘Six Degrees of Separation’

WHEN — 7 p.m. March 18-19 & 3 p.m. March 19

WHERE — Breedlove Auditorium at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

COST — $10

INFO — uafs.universitytickets.com

Categories: Theater