It was Gary Tibberman’s self-proclaimed stalker that helped the NFL punter turn his life around.
Tibberman, the protagonist in the 14th Grade Players’ newest production, “Kick the Ball,” which ran this past weekend at West Hall Theater, is conflicted after his overzealous coach benches him.
“I’m pointless,” Tibberman, who was played by sophomore Andy Nye, says after being benched. “I don’t have any value. All I do is kick the ball.”
Gary has always comfortably taken the backseat in his own humdrum life. It isn’t until Harriet, Tibberman’s cordial and endearing self-proclaimed stalker and her friend Anne appear that Tibberman is encouraged to examine where his life is headed.
“Kick the Ball’ is about alienation in modern society,” Sam Fox-Hartin, the play’s writer and director, said. “We feel alienated from ourselves and alienated from the things we do… I think the grand point that the play tries to make is that what you do isn’t as important as those people you do it with.”
Fox-Hartin said the show was first inspired by a terrible summer job.
“I was working painting the outside of this parking structure for like three months,” he said, “I would do the same thing over and over and so I got this idea of repetition and monotony.”
Despite Harriet’s tendency to stalk Tibberman, she pursues a friendship with the athlete, eventually introducing him to Anne, Tibberman’s love interest. Up until that point, Tibberman had spent most of his days sleeping and bumming around until game-time.
In contrast to the growing friendships, Tibberman is benched by his coach for poor punting performance in favor of the unintelligent and conceited quarterback Troy Bennett.
Fox-Hartin and his cast said they were pleased with the turnout and response.
“We’re not, like, packing the house every night, but I don’t think it needs that to be effective,” Fox-Hartin said.
Junior Elyse Steingold, who plays Frau Richter, the bumbling and eager equipment manager enamored of Troy, said it was a great experience to act in an original play.
“Being able to work with the playwright, we got to be a part of the creation of the show,” Steingold said. “We could check with him to make sure that we were getting the message across he wanted to portray.”
Fox-Hartin started writing the play in early November and submitted the first act to 14th Grade Players’ executive board just before winter break.
“I’ve been making very minor edits ever since,” Fox-Hartin said, “I stopped editing last week.”
Nye said he auditioned for the show spontaneously after walking by the ongoing auditions in Ivory Tower.
“I was walking outside to get my Chinese food and a bunch of my friends were grouped together and said there was an audition,” he said.
This article appeared in the March 28, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.