“Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” explores relationships


The School of Theater and Dance is putting on “Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” as their first production of the spring semester.

By Sophia Phillips

Editor’s note: The following text was edited for length and is not directly quoted.

DeKALB | The School of Theatre and Dance’s first main-stage production of the semester, “Trestle at Pope Lick Creek,” premiered this weekend. The Northern Star sat down with the show’s director, Kay Martinovich, to talk about the production.

Q: What is “Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” about?

A: It’s about the relationship between two young people who find themselves stuck in a small town in the Depression era. Their lives don’t point in any particular direction. It’s also about the relationship between a husband and wife, fathers and sons, and a mother and her son. Something happened at the trestle that night, and the play is about piecing it together so that the truth of that night is revealed.

Q: What is the tone of “Trestle at Pope Lick Creek?”

A: I would say it’s not a happy play but a hopeful play. The characters find themselves in extreme circumstances. Each has experienced a trauma of some sort, and the question is how do they move through that trauma? With that being said, it’s a very human play in that there is joy. There’s a lot of joy and life and fun amidst the circumstances they find themselves in.

Q: Why did the School of Theater and Dance choose to put on this production?

A: I have been in love with this play ever since I first read it back in the ‘90s, and it has been on my list of plays to direct since then. Naomi Wallace, the playwright, is a beautiful writer, and I’m captured by the poetry of the piece, the imagery and the pathos. How the playwright plays with narrative and form and having written my dissertation on ghosts, I always love a good ghost story.

Q: Have you changed anything for your adaptation of “Trestle at Pope Lick Creek?”

A: No, the text is exactly as Naomi Wallace has written it.

Q: How would you describe your directing style and how it has influenced the play?

A: I’ve been told that I’m an actor’s director by actors from my shows over the years. What that means is that I work with each of the five actors in the show on crafting their specific journey in the play. So I pay great attention to how a character moves, uses gesture, uses inflection and uses eye focus. And I work with each one so that the show is character-driven rather than actor-driven, if that makes sense.

So, for example, we do a lot of table work with this cast and staff, so we went really slowly through the text so that we could answer all the questions that the text posed and that we posed ourselves. It’s a very complex script, and there are jumps in time that we all had to be clear about. Along with this, I’ve worked closely with the designers at the same time that I’m rehearsing with actors so that we get a unified voice and so that all elements are working together—and that’s really how I am on most productions. I like to do table work; I like to work closely with actors; and I like to work closely with designers. So that has not shifted with this production.