There are four characters in Samuel Beckett's one-act play "Endgame." In "Endgame Project," the version HCC theater instructor Sheryl Stoodley is directing for her Serious Play! Theater Ensemble, two of them are puppets.
The other two, Hamm, a blind, chair-bound tyrant, and Clov, his slave, are played, respectively, by Rand Foerster, an HCC adjunct instructor, and Kermit Dunkelberg, HCC's assistant vice president of adult basic education and workforce development.
The HCC association doesn't end there. The set and lighting were designed by Chris Hoyt, a former theater instructor at HCC; C. Webster Marsh, a former HCC tech associate, is handling sound; and Deborah Banks-McIntosh, a communications, media and theater arts major at HCC, is the stage manager.
"Endgame Project" started its run two weeks ago at the Academy of Music in Northampton to sold-out audiences. The production begins a three-night run at Holyoke's Gateway City Arts at 92 Race St., Thursday, March 31, and continues Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m.
Despite the inclusion of puppets in the production (created by puppeteer David Regan), "Endgame Project" is not a children's play. It deals with issues Beckett raises in other plays, such as his most famous work, "Waiting for Godot" -- life, death and the meaning of it all. It is recommended for mature audiences (over age 14).
"In Endgame, Samuel Beckett mixes the poetry of simple dialogue with imagination, cruelty, vitality, compassion, and even wry humor to create an experience that is at once hypnotic and ridiculous -- yet it captivates," Stoodley says in her director's note.
Stoodley, the artistic director of the Northampton-based Serious Play! Theatre Ensemble, began digging into the text of the play four years ago after the death of both her parents to long illnesses. She has been working on this production since 2014.
"For me this play speaks to the passing of time, moment to moment, and to those who witness the moments with us -- the relationship of each of us to our partners, children to their parents, and parents to their partners, what we all do as we struggle to get on with it," Stoodley writes.
The two puppets, in fact, represent the character Hamm's parents, Nagg and Nell.
"Successfully incorporating puppetry into stage action opens up new imaginative possibilities that seem right in line with Beckett's vision," Stoodley says.
A discussion of the play will follow the Friday night performance. The Tiny Kitchen bistro at Gateway City Arts will be open for dinner on the show dates, March 31-April 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. each evening.
Seating is limited. Advance ticket purchases are recommended by calling 800-838-3006 or going to brownpapertickets.com.
For more information, please contact Elaine Hoffman at 413.320.3147.
PHOTOS by Ellen Augarten, courtesy of Serious Play! Theater Ensemble: (Left) HCC staffers Kermit Dunkelberg, left, and Rand Foerster, right, star in 'The Endgame Project,' directed by HCC theater instructor Sheryl Stoodley. (Right) Kermit Dunkelberg, HCC's assistant vice president of adult basic education and workforce development programs, stars as Clov in a scene from 'The Endgame Project.'