HCC Theater Department to stage ‘When the Rain Stops Falling’

Date: 11/14/2014

HOLYOKE – It’s raining. A man screams. A fish falls from the sky.

So begins “When the Rain Stops Falling,” Andrew Bovell’s dramatic exploration of one family’s struggle over four generations, from a small London flat in 1959 to the Australian desert in 2039.

“It’s an intimate play on an epic scope, about a son working to unravel the sins of his forefathers,”  Holyoke Community College (HCC) theater professor Tim Cochran, director of the play said.  The HCC Theater Department will present the play Nov. 13 to 15 and 20 to 22 on the stage of the Leslie Phillips Theater. 

All evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a matinee performance on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. The Nov. 14 show will be interpreted for speakers of American Sign Language. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors and $5 for HCC students, faculty and staff.

The audience is introduced to the screaming man, Gabriel York, as he prepares to meet the son he abandoned as a child. York lives in a future with never-ending precipitation, where fish are believed to be extinct.

The play jumps back and around in time as one scene bleeds into the next, visiting different generations (sometimes simultaneously) across different continents.

“This is not an easy play,” Cochran said. “It may be one of the hardest plays I’ve ever worked on. The narrative structure makes it hard – the story is told asynchronously. And the content.  We’re talking about family issues, but the unspoken background of the story is global warming – how the choices of the past affect the next generation.”

That theme is summed up best, Cochran said, by the character Elizabeth Law, who confronts her husband, Henry Law, after discovering the sin that starts events in motion.

“You are a thief,” she says. “Instead of a loaf of bread, you have stolen the future.”

Cochran said, “The play presents an authentic view of a family dealing with turmoil and also asks questions of us, the audience, as we consider our choices. It’s not a lesson. It presents all the confusion of a family trying to improve itself, but they keep stumbling. I think that resonates.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge was creating a set that would serve the different generations and vast span of years and settings.

Cochran and set designer Chris Hoyt settled on using a family dinner table as a symbolic prop. This table, however, is unlike any other – it stretches off the stage and over the seats and rises all the way to the back of the theater.

The table serves as both a place to eat, as well as a ramp.

“The dining table is what unifies them,” Cochran said. “When you see the table, it literally extends through time. It represents the timeline that families walk upon. Everything is connected to Henry Law and the choices he’s made. He sits at the head of the table.”

It features Callum LaFrance, from Westhampton, in the role of Gabriel York; Catia Correia, of Amherst, as the younger Elizabeth Law; Alex Mader, of Agawam, as Henry Law; Alex Sopollec, of Palmer, as Gabriel Law; Jovan Alicea, of Holyoke, as the older Elizabeth Law; Nadia Alves, of Ludlow, as the younger Gabrielle York; Jhayden Sheftal, of Chicopee, as Joe Ryan; Ticina Cotto, of Springfield, as the older Gabrielle York; and Tom Roche, of Holyoke, as Andrew York.