Juneau actor to help bring Carol Oates play to Edinburgh

Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2005

Juneau native Mike James and six friends from Wesleyan University are presenting Joyce Carol Oates' "Tone Clusters" next month at Scotland's Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Festival Fringe is one of the best-known theater festivals in the world. This year's, held Aug. 7-29, will include 1,799 shows and more than 30,000 performances in 333 attics, bars, parks, playhouses and alternative venues. For more, check out www.edfringe.com.

The 45-minute play chronicles a husband and wife (James and Hayley Stokar), who are interrogated about their son's involvement in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. Both are in denial. A disembodied voice (Eric Wdowiak) looms over the play as a sort of narrator or malevolent judge.

"They're not bad parents; they're normal people," said James, a veteran of Perseverance Theatre. "I think the play is about when you stop seeing the people that you know and love for who they really are. When are friends more about comfort than about being your friends? How dangerous is that when you stop looking at things?"

"Tone Clusters" will play Aug. 8-13 at Edinburgh University Theatre Co.'s 91-seat Bedlam Theatre. Directed by Jessica Chayes, it originally showed at Wesleyan for one weekend in February. Chayes went to last year's Festival Fringe and came up with the idea to tour "Tone Clusters" this summer.

The students are paying for the trip themselves, with the help of several big fundraising projects. The actors will rendezvous in New York City in early August to rehearse the play before traveling to Europe.

This will be James' first trip to Scotland.

"Without knowing what we were getting into," James said, "it turned out to be a real lesson in how to put something like this together."

James, a history major with an emphasis in European politics, will be a junior at Wesleyan this fall. He was in three plays last semester and hopes to study theater in graduate school.

James transferred to the Connecticut school after one year at Colorado College. His last play at Perseverance was Shakespeare's "Winter's Tale" in late 2001. His last Juneau production was in "Damn Yankees," the 2003 spring musical at Juneau-Douglas High School.

"When I've done theater in Juneau or at Wesleyan, you have the parents who are so excited to see your play and you have your fellow students who are so excited to see your play," James said. "This will be the first time any of us will have taken a play somewhere where none of us knows anyone. It will be just about the play, and all about the work."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.

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