Clovis, NM-Jules Vern’s epic science fiction novel published in 1873, was adapted for the stage by Mark Brown in 2001. The story centers around Phileas Fogg and his French valet Passpartout’s attempt to win a wager by circling the world in 80 days. Did Fogg and Passpartout make it around the world by train, boat, and elephant? Yes, indeed, the Clovis community audience was able to see his triumphs and failures during the January 24thperformance presented by National Players.
Celebrating their 70th season, National Players is a unique ensemble bringing innovative theater to communities large and small across the United States. National Players has performed in 41 states; in the White House; and for the American military in Europe, Asia, and the Arctic Circle. Committed to artistic excellence and community engagement, National Players has brought literature to life for nearly three million people. As stated by author of DC Metro Theatre Arts, Carolyn Kelemen, “It’s enough to renew one’s faith in the world’s artistic future...”
Following the production’s final scene, the National Players held a question and answer session with the audience. The players asked the audience questions about their beliefs in technology and if it brings the world closer together or further apart as well as if audience members had attended a previous theatrical performance. Patrick Bennett, one of the audience members who attended the Q&A, said the performance was, “Really good! It’s the first (Cultural Arts Series) I’ve been to, but I’ll definitely be back! I really enjoyed it!”
Earlier that day, National Players performed select scenes from the play for students with Clovis Municipal Schools and led a question and answer session with the students. Sixth grade students from Yucca and Gattis Middle School, as well as sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from Marshall Middle School attended, totaling more than 500 students. The students’ general consensus was that they wanted to see more of the play. In fact, the two scenes they were able to preview were were so engaging that some of them had to attend the performance that evening to end the suspense of finding out if Fogg and Passpartout made it around the world. The most captivating part of the performance for the students was the use of humor in the play.
One of the questions posed to students was if they thought technology brings people closer together or creates more distance between them. Students showed support for their opinions by standing up for which statement they believed to be true. The session was guided by the National Players troupe, but students began asking their own questions such as, “How long does it take you to memorize your lines?” and “How did you learn to act?” The majority of the troupe responded they had completed bachelor’s degrees and some had cross-trained from other fields. The troupe spoke about their travel and what a blessing it was to have year-round employment as an actor, without having to have extraneous jobs to support themselves and their passion. Students were inspired at the possibility of making the creative arts a full-time job opportunity.
This performance and outreach activity was presented at Marshall Auditorium as part of the Cultural Arts Series on Thursday, January 24. Brought to you by Clovis Community College and The Citizens Bank of Clovis. For more information please call 575.769.4031 or visit www.ClovisArts.org.