Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Intense drama reveals intense emotional truths


MARY (HANNAH VAN FLEET), seated, takes the witness stand to describe the horrible events leading to a murder. The Judge (Andrew Standridge) listens as Nelly (Courtney Gaunt) stands by in the fall production of "The Rimers of Eldritch." Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

From page B2 | October 31, 2012 |

What: “Rimers of Eldritch”

Who: El Dorado High School drama department

Where: El Dorado High School, Black Box Theater, 561 Canal St. in Placerville

When: Nov. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10. Doors open at 7 p.m. and play is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased on the drama department’s Website, or The Bookery, 326 Main St. in Placerville or at the door

Information: 530-622-3634, ext. 1191 or visit

Ben Butler has a passion for drama. His focus is not on the stage but behind the scenes.

Butler, a senior, is the light designer for the El Dorado High School drama department’s fall play, Lanford Wilson’s “Rimer’s of Eldritch.”

Opening night is Thursday, Nov. 1 at the El Dorado High School, Black Box Theater, 561 Canal St. in Placerville.

Last year, Butler was the light designer for “A Midsummer’s Dream.”

“I’ve really been interested in backstage work,” Butler said. “It was one of the first things I felt a passion for.”

The technical end of a production was introduced in beginning drama class Butler’s freshman year and it captivated his imagination.

One of the many duties Butler has is where the lights are hung on the grid and what colors to use, depending on the scene. Once that is done Butler programs the lighting board for the play.

“He creates what he calls the color schemes for the scenes based on the actors’ wardrobe and mood,” said Paul Tomei, director of the play. Tomei has been teaching theater arts at El Dorado for the last 14 years.

“It all depends on the mood of the play,” Butler added.

Back to the 1960s

The Wilson play is set in the 1960s in Eldritch, Mo. It is about a murder of an aging local hermit Skelly Mannor (Logan Thomas) by a woman, Nelly Windrod (Courtney Gaunt).

“The scenes are pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle, often times with particular moments repeated several times for dramatic emphasis. Along the journey, the emotional truths of the characters are revealed and the basis for the town’s values becomes apparent,” Tomei said,

Senior Nick Nicodemus plays Robert Conklin, one of the teenagers who is at the scene of Mannor’s murder. Conklin has spent much of his life living under the shadow of his older brother Driver, who was killed in an automobile accident three years before.

“People still compare him to his brother,” said Nicodemus. “He is only sticking around to prove himself to be better.”

More personalities

Courtney Land, another senior, plays Eva Jackson, who was with Conklin at the time of Mannor’s murder.

Jackson is handicapped dealing with what Land describes as “strife” during the trial. Jackson is considered sociable but she is isolated when it comes to interacting with others. Conklin is her only real friend who is more of a big brother.

“This play is very unique,” Land said. “It has a lot of deep, moral things going on and it makes the audience think. It’s not just a play for entertainment. It makes you think about your life.”

The 16 member cast agrees they are all working hard in preparing for opening night and the run of the play.

“We spend so much time together,” said Land, who plans on taking drama classes in college after she graduates. “We take the play seriously but we have a lot of fun.”

Cast and crew

The rest of the cast is Evelyn Jackson, (Claire Rapp), Lena Truit (Rachel Turner), Martha Truit (Colleen Crooks), Wilma Atkins (Chrissy Mahoney), Nelly Windrod (Courtney Gaunt), Mary Windrod, (Hannah Van Vleet), Trucker (August Kuuskvere), Cora Groves (Sarah Erickson), Walter (Caleb Morris), Patsy Johnson (Amanda Jane Moore), Mavis Johnson (Emily Bonham), Josh Johnson (Thaden Salstrand), Peck Johnson (Kevin Seger) and Preacher/Judge (Andrew Standridge).

Odin Rascoare is working with Butler on the lighting for the play. Michaela Gutierrez is stage manager, Terri Thomas is the costume designer, Dave Shelnutt and Mike Dinubilo are the set designers and Aleks Jonsson, Alex Alvarez and Taylor Carlisle are part of the stage crew.

The play opens Thursday, Nov. 1 and runs Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3; and Thursday, Nov. 8 to Saturday, Nov. 10. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors. Tomei said tickets can be purchased online at the drama department’s Website,, at The Bookery, 326 Main St. in Placerville or at the door the night of the play.

For more information visit the drama department’s Website or call 530-622-3634, ext. 1191.

Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.



Mike Bush

Mike Bush has been a Staff Writer at the Mountain Democrat since August 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MBushMtDemo


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