Picnic: A Unique Experience

By Elizabeth Sirianni

On October 2nd, Ms. Lucas hosted a field trip for her Intro to Theater class. Her students saw a live performance of the play Picnic at Desales University at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. The class left for the trip at about 9AM and returned at about 12:00AM considering that the play’s run time was just over two hours and the round trip was about half an hour long. I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Lucas to ask her more about the trip:

Why do you think it was important for your class to see this play in particular?

William Inge [the play’s creator] is a contemporary American playwright whose works have been celebrated throughout the years in the American Canon, so it’s important to introduce my students to great classic playwrights. It’s a human story that centers on the human condition, which everyone can relate to regardless of their background. It will not only be poignant, but the students will be able to relate to it.

What do you hope your class will take away from this field trip?

I’m hopeful for students who have never seen a live performance to learn just how meaningful a live performance can be. Seeing how a play was meant to be performed and seeing life breathed into it through acting is a totally different process [compared to just watching a video]. I hope that they’ll enjoy the play and find meaning in critiquing it in a deliberate fashion so that they can tell what went well, what was well acted, what they liked about the storyline, and what pieces can be improved. It’s about enjoying it and experiencing it in a meaningful way. Finding things that were excellent and things that they would personally improve as an artist [is another skill I want them to adopt when watching this live performance].

Are there any other plays you would want your class to see live?

Absolutely. I would love for everyone to have access to live theater. I wish it was more generally affordable for everyone. Broadway tickets cost $100 a pop if you’re lucky so it can be alienating for those who can’t afford that. I got to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman before he passed away. Potentially [I would want them to see] other spring playwrights, such as The Cherry Orchards, which is completely different than Picnic. The list of plays that I could have everyone go see is far too long to list here. If you can see live theater in any capacity, go do it.

What makes seeing a live play better than just watching a recording of one?

I know that for many people it would be difficult to see the difference but there’s something to being a member of an audience. Even if it was filmed live you’re not really there, you’re not experiencing what’s happening on stage. Theater can be spontaneous and exciting because it can be different from night to night to night. If I went to go see a performance one night the person who went the next night could see something totally different. If you’re not in that audience you’re not really apart of that experience and the actors aren’t directly being open with you. There’s something particularly moving about going to see that up close and personal that you can’t particularly get out of a classroom setting.

You can watch a preview of Picnic here.