Bucks Student Plays Key Role in Local Stage Production


Photo courtesy the Langhorne Players

Hannah Boscola

The Langhorne Players present Lauren Gunderson’s comedic drama “I and You”, from July 22 through Aug. 6, and a Bucks student is playing a key role in making the production happen.

Performances take place at the Spring Garden Mill at Tyler State Park, 1440 Newtown-Richboro Road in Newtown.

“I and You” shows “how art brings us together,” said stage manager Karolina Matyka, a Bucks student. “It’s really beautiful to see, especially now. Theaters have been closed for nearly two years because of the pandemic and now we’re finally getting together again. Art is bringing us together again.”

I and You” is about a single, fateful afternoon in the lives of two teenagers. High school senior Anthony meets Caroline, who has been homebound for months with an illness, to complete a school assignment. Over just a few hours, Caroline and Anthony open up in surprising ways, realizing they are more similar than they’d initially thought.

Lauren Gunderson’s “I and You” taps into the deeper mysteries of youth, love, and human connection in a play offering “the best thing a play can offer: we might be better people after seeing it,” according to DC Theatre Scene.

“This was one of the rare plays where as soon as our entire board read it, we knew we had to stage it,” said producer Jack Bathke in the “I and You” press release. “The themes of connection and how art brings us together were a perfect fit for our first season back after two summers in lockdown.”

Matyka says her favorite moment of “I and You” is in Part Two of the show, where Caroline and Anthony sit on the bed and listen to jazz with their eyes closed and imagine the streets of New York. “Our light designer, David Sullivan, used color gels to make the lights blue and red, imitating the inside of a jazz club. It’s a seemingly small change but the effect is incredible and really it takes you into that dream-like state with the characters.”

Matyka’s role as stage manager is considered the director’s ‘right-hand’. Stage managers provide support to the director, actors, and crew throughout the production, as well as make sure that each rehearsal and each show runs smoothly. Matyka says, “Everyone involved in the productions at Langhorne Players is very professional and knows their craft, whether it’s acting, directing, or working backstage.”

Langhorne Players is a nonprofit, all volunteer community theater that produces thought-provoking plays meant to engender after-theater conversation. Matyka says the actors, directors, stage crew, herself included, all take time out of their day – and more often night – to put together a show on a semi-professional to even professional level. “Community theaters rely heavily on donations to keep their doors open, as ticket sales are their main source of revenue.”

Each production has a limited budget determined by donations, oftentimes putting restrictions on the players’ vision. She says “working behind the scenes takes a lot of creativity, patience, and problem solving. We want to give the audience the best experience with what we have.”

Due to Covid, the Players are still taking precautions providing snacks and refreshments, however, a water fountain was recently installed inside the theater. Normally the Langhorne Players provide free soft drinks and salty snacks to its patrons, however, places to donate to the players are always nearby inside the theater or can be found online. According to the theater the basket that empties the fastest is always the Cheese Curls.

Matyka says, “This is the first show I’ve worked on that has such a small and young cast. It’s only two people and the actors are 18 and 23 years old. There’s plenty of playfulness happening behind the scenes and it’s a rather relaxed environment but, at the same time, the two actors are taking their roles very seriously.”

“When I started working as a stage manager, I would keep to myself and just focus on making sure that we have everything we need to run the show. At Langhorne Players, and with this show, I found myself discussing the actors’ actions with the director and making suggestions on how a particular moment or scene should look like,” says Matyka. “I consider this an opportunity to grow and learn as an artist.”

She says the Langhorne Players “are passionate and serious about their craft. They are very much willing to teach you and give you pointers on how to become better. If you have ideas, they will listen to you. It’s a confidence boost for an artist.”

Langhorne Players Theater Company was founded in 1947 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania by the late Ed Macon. Langhorne Players was founded at the home of the late Edward and Katherine Macon, by a group of 30 would-be thespians that had answered an advertised invitation in the Delaware Valley Advance.

Following initial efforts to establish the company from an old rustic barn, the Players moved around Bucks County several times in an effort to find a permanent home. They finally settled into the Spring Garden Mill in Tyler State Park in 1976.

In 2003, the Theater was transformed into an artistic space where audience members are treated to an intimate experience, sitting comfortably in velvet-covered seats. The theater is air-conditioned and accommodates 73 patrons per performance. According to the theater, many of their current subscribers have been with the Langhorne for over a decade, some close to 30 years.

“I and You” stars Madison Russell as Caroline and Favian Harris as Anthony. Performances run July 22-24, 28-31, and Aug. 3-6. A talk-back with the cast and crew will follow the Wednesday, Aug. 3 performance. Tickets are $22 at langhorneplayers.org.