Photo by Lucy Wimmer
By Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
Brilliant Traces, a show developed by the Pipeline-Collective in Nashville in June of this year features Sewanee alumni Amanda Card and Jacob Moore (C’08). Over the course of two nights, September 15 and 16, the two-person play unfolded in the Studio Theatre, astounding and disturbing the audience in equal measure.
The play, written by Cindy Lou Johnson and directed in Nashville by Laramie Hearn, takes place in a small cabin in Alaska. The set is sparse, but full of character. Downstage right, there is a bed, with newspapers and magazines strewn haphazardly on the floor, a dining table on which sits a bottle of bourbon, a bookcase to the right, and a stove and a sink upstage left. Here, Henry Harry lives in isolation.
However, he is disturbed one night when a young woman, Rosannah Deluce, bursts through the door in her wedding dress only to pass out on the floor. As the play progresses, the two of them learn to navigate the intimate space between each other; and in doing so, overcome their fears and find ways to deal with the ghosts of their respective pasts.
“It’s really interesting because it’s two people who have gone out of their way to find isolation,” says Amanda Card, who plays Rosannah. “And this act of going out of their way to find isolation leads them to being trapped with another person. And they can’t do anything about it.”
Brilliant Traces embraces the Pipeline concept, which involves only two people, minimal design elements, and minimal tech work. Card plays a troubled young woman, who has, for reasons that are eventually revealed, left her fiancée at the altar, and driven all the way from Arizona to Alaska stopping only for gas.
Of Rosannah, Card says, “She’s allowed to be messy, she’s allowed to be flawed, and I don’t feel like there’s any kind of stereotypical female character quality about her. Of all the characters I’ve played, she feels the closest to who I really am as a person.”
Acting alongside her is Jacob Moore, who plays Henry Harry. When asked to describe his character in three words, Moore stated, “Scarred by love,” which is, on many levels, an accurate summation.
Card and Moore acted together all throughout their years at Sewanee: in fact, the first show they ever performed together at Sewanee was in the Studio Theatre’s freshman showcase. Performing Brilliant Traces in the same space, more than ten years later, possesses the nostalgic satisfaction of coming full circle. Together, the two of them are a powerhouse of energy and emotion: they are in turn funny, fearful, passionate, vulnerable, and affectionate, working seamlessly to give the play a depth and intensity that awes the audience.
Greer King, C’21, who worked on props for the play, says, “It was touching to witness the portrayal of two imperfect people who could somehow work through their dark pasts and see the light in each other.”
Brilliant Traces was in no way an easy play to put on, but in spite of casting troubles, time constraints, and kidney infections, Amanda Card and Jacob Moore managed to pull it off with aplomb. They are grateful to Dr David Landon, who was their acting professor at Sewanee, for helping them bring the show to the University.
“The message of the play is about the work of being human,” says Moore. “Sewanee can definitely be a place where you’re very attached to people and connected to people, and you get very involved; it can also be a place where you get very isolated, and you don’t want to leave your dorm room. This play kind of addresses that hermitic instinct and lays bare the important and painful work of connecting with other people, and what that means and what that does to us.”
“It opens you up to possibilities and a lot of hurt, and loss, and trauma; but it also opens you up to incredible support and the opportunity to have other people help you carry things that you thought you had to carry by yourself,” adds Card. “And it’s worth it.”