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Perfect Arrangement: Two homosexual couples conceal their love from 1950’s society

The cast of Perfect Arrangement take their bows after a performance in the studio theater. Photo by Kosuke Yoshii / Antelope Staff

UNK Theatre’s latest production of “Perfect Arrangement” by Topher Payne was inspired by the true story of the American gay rights movement and brought light to themes surrounding the Lavender Scare. 

The story followed Bob and Norma, two U.S. State Department employees, who had to hide one shared secret: they were gay and secretly married to each other’s partners. On the surface, they were forced to fit an “ideal image” of the American couple and hide away from an unaccepting culture.

Nathan Hayes, student director for the play, said he wanted the play to bring attention to some of its themes.

“Because it is based on such a serious topic set in the past, I hope that it will create an awareness of things that are going on today,” Hayes said. “Based on the balance between the past and today, things are supposed to be better, but they’re not much better.”

When the play was announced last December, Hayes knew he had to be a part of it. He began to ask the professors about how he could make his role in the play become a reality. Hayes learned that he had to take a student-directing class that UNK offered. So, he signed up, completed the class, and then began his application to become director. 

“I had the entire summer to start gathering ideas and putting things together,” Hayes said. “The beginning of August is when I officially started designs. We held auditions, I got my cast and I started talking to my designer about ideas.”

Finnegan Denson, who played Bob Martindale, shared his feelings on seeing all of the pieces come into place for this production. 

“The set coming together was super cool to see because we watched it go from acting blocks and basically nothing to our full set,” Denson said. “I think it was the coolest thing seeing everyone and everything come together.”

Putting the production together presented some challenges for the actors, such as stepping into a new character, using more sensitive profanity and addressing darker themes from a difficult period of time for the gay community. The actors had to find a way to focus their energy on the vitality of this event, whilst also leaving room for comedic relief. 

Brianna Linden, who played Norma Baxter, shared that one of her favorite things about being involved in UNK productions was the people she got to connect with.

“I like everybody in the production,” Linden said. “Everyone is so sweet and I don’t think anybody feels uncomfortable with what we’re saying and what we’re doing.”

Denson detailed the message that he hoped this play would convey to its audience.

“Just because somebody is different doesn’t make them a bad person,” Denson said. “Nobody is a bad person because of who they like. This show is about acceptance and how people need to ban together and like everybody no matter who they like.”

Photos by Kosuke Yoshii / Antelope Staff

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Eve Healey
Eve Healey, Reporter
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