Abilene Community Theatre presents “No Room for a Picture on a Blank Wall,” a tale of how Alzheimer’s affects the life of Peter Bunther and those around him. To say that the story is touching is an understatement. In the most pleasant way possible, it is difficult to watch, yet David Ainsworth (Peter Bunther) is so convincing that one does not dare look away.
Ainsworth’s progression from an energetic and spry man to one who is a shell of himself is without pause. He shrinks before our eyes, scene by scene as if each memory takes a part of him physically as well. Ainsworth has taught theatre for more than thirty years and has directed and designed numerous productions. Yet this is the first time I’ve seen him onstage as an actor. “I have long since ceased to think of myself primarily as an actor, but I still take it up occasionally so that the actor’s point of view remains fresh in my mind.” Says Ainsworth.
Ainsworth performs opposite his real-life wife, Carolyn, “The salient benefit of working with my wife to portray a married couple consists of the elimination of the “what if” factor. “What if” the actress really were my wife, with all the closeness and baggage that goes along with that? How do we create that in our imaginations? Well, we don’t have to. All we have to do is conjure up the specific differences between the Bunthers’ marriage and our own.” States Ainsworth.
“You need complete trust in an acting partner for a scene to be successful. We have communication beyond the words which I believe enhance the experience.” Adds C. Ainsworth. Ainsworth adds a strength to the stage that amplifies the diminishing of D. Ainsworth’s character. As Rosemary Bunther, she is the ultimate provider and protector, loving and tender, yet terrifying when need be.
“I think particularly for the chemistry in this production, it has been a great benefit. Married couples don’t always have great stage chemistry, but David and Carolyn Ainsworth do – if you didn’t know they are married & in love with each other, you would believe that Peter & Rosemary Bunther do, and that is key for the progression of the play.” Says mike stephens, the director.
When asked what drew him to this play specifically, stephens states, “The depth of the story from such a young playwright. I think this play reaches deep to touch the soul in a great story about love.”
The play is written by David Remschel, a McMurry alum, and friend to many involved in this production. It is a daunting task to perform a play in front of any playwright but also a rare chance to learn from one another. “I always like doing a play where the playwright can be in attendance.” Says Adam Singleton, who plays Bunther’s son, “It’s such a great opportunity to hear from the person who created this world and these characters.”
Remschel had cast twins as the movers in his premiere of “No Room,” however, that is not the case in this casting. Instead, stephens went with Kathy Fisher and Shea Cheek as the movers and this was a good move. Fisher, Cheek and D. Ainsworth have rapid-fire banter with one another without a breath’s span between lines, yet they do not muddle the words together.
Titania McGee is really the cherry on top of this production. She is a newcomer to the ACT stage, yet she brings fierce emotion that goes head to head with the Ainsworths’ as the Bunthers’ daughter in law.
“No Room for a Picture on a Blank Wall” can be seen at Abilene Community Theatre May 31st- June 2nd at 7:30 pm, June 8th -9th at 7:30 pm and June 10th at 2 pm. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.abilenecommunitytheatre.org/.