Director and cast of upcoming theater production ‘Bug’ tease a skin-crawling night

Shiann Sivell

Cast members of Georgia Southern University’s production of “Bug” vow that the show will take the audience on a mind-trip.

Taking place in Oklahoma City, “Bug” follows the downfall of the self-deprecating Agnes, played by senior theater major Paige Oney and mental hospital escapee Peter, played by sophomore multimedia film production major Charles Boykin as they go on a drug-fueled bender in a motel room.

The play will deal with extensive themes of physical and drug abuse as well as mental illness.

Triggering characters and themes

Boykin hints that the audience may leave “Bug” with a stronger distrust of government and a sense of doubt with the character’s sanity.

“They’re going to leave thinking ‘Oh, maybe that guy [Peter] is insane’ but as they’re thinking about it, you don’t know. It’s hard to tell,” Boykin said.

Senior political science major Peyton Rowe plays the “motherly lesbian” and cocaine dealer R.C., a severe contrast from her role as the pious church elder Sister Moore in fall 2018’s production of “The Amen Corner.”

R.C. is primarily responsible for introducing the two main characters and dealing them drugs, which she will later express a great deal of guilt about.

To prepare for the role, Rowe had to “butch up” her appearance, including clothing herself in denim and fake tattoos.

“This is a completely different role from anything I’ve ever played,” Rowe said. “Most of my look came from costume designer Sarah McCarroll.”

Making crack

Zabrina Corrales, a sophomore double major of math and theater and prop master for “Bug,” had to do extensive research to get the drugs in the play to look as authentic as possible.

The snorting cocaine, for example, is ground up vitamin powder. The crack cocaine is a mixture of the vitamin powder, tea and cornstarch microwaved to a crystallized consistency.

“There’s a lot of drugs in the set, and since the show is supposed to be very realistic, you can’t actually put crack on the stage,” Corrales said. “You have to find a way to make crack that both works and looks real.”

Dark roots

For director Lisa Abbott, “Bug” is a passion project and reflects her favorite genre of theater.

The play is more closely related to the darker stories she worked with professionally, Abott said.

“I just did two musicals in a row and I need to do something dark,” Abbot said. “No more happy musicals.”

“Bug’s” darker themes of drug abuse and mental illness have much deeper meaning than the play’s premise allows.

The play, Abbot said, will hopefully teach the audience how to prevent self-downfall and know when the right moment is to seek help.

“[“Bug”] isn’t really about insanity or conspiracies,” Abbott said. “It’s about what happens to the people who fall off the fringes of society.”

The GS Theatre Department will begin showing “Bug” Wednesday through March 6. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $6 for students, faculty and staff.

Curtain for all evening performances is at 7:30 p.m.

There will be no performance on March 4 and the Sunday performance will take place at 2 p.m.

Abbott said that due to the darker themes, “Bug” is intended only for mature audiences.

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Enterprise Reporter,