Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Layers by Gary Rodgers is a fantastic play within a play… within a play!
Step inside Robin’s world as he grapples with his conscience and his anti-conscience. And then deeper into a world of misinformed theatrical anthropologists from the 25th century. And then deeper still as the writer tries to figure out an ending… which he may not be able to do if he’s not actually the writer.
This is not just one play. It’s a play within a play within an onion within a cabbage. Layers is filled with, well, layers. Characters and story overlap and cabbage gets thrown. Make sure you read to the very end because it’s not the writer who writes the final word…
Why did we publish this play?
This play is an onion. It’s a play within a play within a play. That alone makes it an interesting challenge: when are we in which world? Add to that we have characters grappling with both their conscious and their anti-conscious, characters from the 125th century, and a writer who isn’t the writer. This all could be a jumble as one layer piles on another, but it’s not. It’s so well written. We love the challenge of this play, love the fun of the challenge and we love being able to offer the challenge you!
1. Why did you write this play?
I approached this production with the intention of creating a play within a play within a play (and believe me I toyed with the idea of putting it all in another play) and adding several standard aspects of theatre including a quasi-chorus group, the breaking of the forth wall, and an audience plant. The plan was to create something entertaining for both performers and the audience. I had a fantastic cast to work with when we performed the original production and I was delighted with how well it all came together.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
I always thought the theme of Layers is that all decisions have consequences, however, it is questionable whether we are actually in control of our decisions. Surely, we all make decisions that guide our fate in life but is it possible that our decisions are actually guided by fate? Do we really make independent choices or is it our destiny to have made them? In other words, are we creating a script as we go or are we simply following one?
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
The characters Knowledge and Quote add a whole other dimension to this play, or shall I say “layer.” Though acknowledged by the Writer and Advisor, their presence cannot be explained. They do however, create the impression that they are controlled by some outside entity and are displeased with their situation.
It is important that their body language and positioning portray the idea that they are not the masters of their own fate, though they should not act as robots, but rather slaves. This sets them up well for the skirmish scene at the very end when they battle with Robin for the laptop, which represents the opportunity for one of them to rewrite their destiny.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
It’s almost impossible for actors to overact the characters in this play. I would advise anyone performing these roles to ham it up and bring as much life and animation to each character as possible. This play moves surprisingly fast and if every performer brings a pile of energy to their role, the audience will hang on every word.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
This is just a super fun play that is great to act in. It has a level of complexity and sophistication that can challenge student performers yet is not overly complicated or confusing. It has a clever wit about it, not only in individual lines but in the fabric of the situations created. Ultimately, young performers will feed off their audience’s ample reactions to this play.