GVSU senior produces one-person play

Jenny Adkins

Singularity: Whether it be through the creative process, the plot or the rarity of a one-person show at Grand Valley State University, Lindsey Normington’s play “Figurehead” exhibits just that. There will be one show only Friday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Linn Maxwell Keller Blackbox Theatre in the Haas Center for Performing Arts. 

The play follows the story of a college freshman named Peg who is on a journey to wrap her head around her life thus far, Normington said. Through doing so, the immature girl believes life has her locked in a box. 

“‘Figurehead’ is about a girl who is trapped,” Normington said. “She’s come to this point where all of a sudden, she’s stuck. Before, she was moving forward, but now she is somewhere where she literally cannot do anything.”

Normington said while the show deals with some serious themes, there are scenes where Peg can act freely and more foolishly. In creating her own play, Normington said there are a variety of scenes that reflect her own thoughts and experiences throughout her life. 

“For a brief period, Peg decides to put on her own one-woman show within the play, and it’s very goofy,” Normington said. “(It’s) very (much) me commenting on my own experience and trying to make something to be proud of, something where you don’t have a lot of resources and you don’t have a lot of experience especially.”

Normington said in scheduling classes for her minor in theater, she had completed all the other classes that appealed to her, leaving her sights on an independent study. She had wanted to write a play, and she developed the idea for the show when her study’s adviser, Dennis Henry, recommended a one-person play.

“Something like (a one-person show) is a unique opportunity for somebody who is (as) advanced as (Normington) is,” Henry said. “I knew that she had done some writing, too, so here was a chance to show everything that she learned while she’s been (at GVSU) in one big package.”

Henry said he met Normington through directing plays that she had been a part of at GVSU, such as “Cabaret” last semester. He said deciding to do a one-person play is nearly the opposite of creating a traditional show, which is typically dependent on teamwork and sharing creative energy. 

“One of the real fun things about theater is that it’s so collaborative,” Henry said. “You’re there with your friends and the cast and the director, and it’s a great social thing. Then, all of a sudden, you’re in a room by yourself.”

Through crafting a show from scratch by herself, Normington said she’s created her main character with a lot of reflection in mind, allowing her to really understand how Peg’s mind works. 

“With any character that I’ve played, I try to find a piece of myself in them, something relatable,” Normington said. “That’s usually easy for me because acting, to me, is always empathy. (It’s about) literally putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and their body and inhabiting that.”

Henry said through Normington’s multiple roles in plays, she has developed a reputation for “always overdelivering,” which makes him excited to see the final product live. 

“People are really familiar with Lindsey’s work in the department,” Henry said. “I think my hope would be for her to present something that even surprises the people who (know) her work and how good it is. Hopefully there will be a moment where (the audience) will go, ‘Wow, I didn’t even expect that.’”

Normington said while she had gotten advice from several different peers and faculty at GVSU, the process has involved a lot of individual growth. She said she has explored a variety of different aspects of producing a show, taking her well beyond the realm of just acting.

“Generally, I’ve only been involved in the acting side of things, so now I’m writing, I’m my own director, I’m my stage manager, I’m my costume designer and I’m my set designer,” Normington said. “Aside from a few technical elements, everything has been myself, which has been an experience I’ve never had before.”