When Marirene Pankratz first read the play “Character Lines,” she loved the realism between the two main characters.
“The conversations that they have are conversations anyone would have with an ex, or someone who you are in a relationship with that was a genuine, compelling story,” Pankratz said, “and it made me fall in love with that.”
Pankratz read the play once, fell in love with it and is now directing it starting Friday night at The Community Players of Hobbs playhouse, 1700 N. Grimes. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday and Feb. 22-23 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 per person.
“Character Lines” tells the story of Kit and Linda, who shared a life together as they struggled for recognition as writers in the 1970s. Seven years later, Linda, who has become a successful novelist, is on a book promotion tour, and visits Kit in the small Tennessee town to which he has retreated.
Their meeting is awkward at first — she radiates from her success in a high-powered world, while he has adjusted to the unchallenging routine of small-town life. But, as they begin to confide in each other, it becomes apparent that Linda has not found the fulfillment she seeks, while Kit, who is still writing and carrying on a satisfying affair with his landlady’s daughter has come to terms with his hopes and dreams.
Following years on stage and behind it, this is Pankratz’s first time as director of a Playhouse production.
“It’s been a fun and humbling experience,” Pankratz said. “Especially being an actor for so long, to now be on the other side of a production. It’s been interesting and beautiful to watch my vision be put on stage and seeing our three actors bring that vision to life and make it more than it could ever have been.”
Matt Blandin portrays the character of Kit. Destiny Windham is the character of Linda, while Brittany Parsons handles the comic relief of the character Evelyn, the landlady’s daughter.
During the start of production, Pankratz had each of the actors create an analysis of their respective characters. The idea is to give the actors a better sense of who their characters are, which helps in their portrayal on stage.
“Destiny and her character of Linda have the largest difference in personality,” Pankratz said. “Matt and I sat down and talked about Kit’s life and the kind of person he is when the story opens. Then Matt created this amazing back story for Kit. Destiny created Linda’s favorite color and childhood best friend. Brittany is a lot like her character, Evelyn, who is hilarious, yet protective of her family.”
The story takes place in one night inside a Tennessee attic apartment.
“I think anyone who watches this show will be able to relate to what is happening,” Pankratz said. “Everyone has probably had very similar conversations and situations happen. It is super relatable, for teenagers to people later in life. They have all had those moments. The time period may be a little off for some people, but going in it’s a funny, love story.”