Enemies The PlayA Police Drama

The Daily Reflector — February 15, 2008

Sworn Enemies
Cast required to keep play’s twists, turns under wraps

By Kristin Day
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 15, 2008

It’s described as a work in theater noir — a gritty story not intended for the eyes and ears of children.

But to find out anything else, you’ll have to see the play.

“Enemies,” written by East Carolina University professor Joseph Horst, debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday in Room 244 of Mendenhall Student Center. The show runs at 8 p.m. every night through Tuesday, in addition to a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday, and is sponsored by the Magnolia Arts Center and ECU’s Phi Sigma Pi honor fraternity.

Only those who see the show will know anything about the storyline — for now at least. Horst and everyone else involved in the production have kept mum due to several plot twists. The cast and crew signed nondisclosure agreements to keep any vital information under wraps.

“They understand the suspense is built by not giving it (the plot) away, so the audience is along for the ride,” said producer Jane Sharp.

Horst, who compares his ending with that of “The Sixth Sense,” was an officer with the ECU Police Department for eight years and has been a reserve officer for five years. He wrote the play for his thesis while getting a master’s degree in English at the university in 2005.

A story he read around that time — one that dealt with identity — helped influence his own writings, as did his police work.

In September 2005, some people with the theater and art departments at ECU held a table-reading of the play at Emerge Gallery. Soon after, Horst began sending the script to numerous theater companies throughout the U.S. and England. But the play will have its world premiere on the small ECU stage.

The Web site, wwww.enemiestheplay.com, has been updated regularly to give potential fans clues to what the play might involve. Sharp said the site started as a teaser, but then they added biographies of the characters and pictures. Most recently, they posted excerpts from one of the main characters’ diary, written by the actress who plays her and approved by Horst and the director, Jerad W. Alexander.

Though they can’t divulge too much about the story, Horst and Sharp do stress that this is a gritty story not meant for children or audiences sensitive to foul language. They even rated the play R for language, some violence and adult situations.

“Even young teens should have someone with them,” Sharp said.

It is also partly intended to bring college-aged people to the theater, and unlike some other shows, this is a play for the guys.

Sharp stressed the importance of paying attention to the cast’s actions as you watch. Sharp said there’s a lot of symbolism behind the actors’ movements on stage, and the story may seem a bit confusing until the end of the second act.

“Everything is explained in the very last scene of the play,” Sharp said.

This, she and Horst said, is why they opted for a room that can only fit 120 people in Mendenhall instead of a bigger stage — to keep the setting more intimate.

“It gets the audience close enough to see the reactions and turns in the characters,” Sharp said.

“Issues (of identification) will really connect more with an intimate audience,” Horst added.

Horst gave another little clue into the play, saying the situations involve the lives of police officers; problems he said are universal.

“A lot of times, the badge dehumanizes officers to the general public,” Horst said.

“I wanted to show the person behind the badge.”

Contact Kristin Day at 329-9579 or kday@coxnc.com.

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