Producing theater company Flashback Theater Co. (FbTC) will kick off their tenth season of productions with Obie Award winning playwright Lucas Hnath’s bone chilling thriller, The Thin Place, directed by Sommer Schoch. Taking place over the course of a dinner party with a dubious psychic, the play invites audiences into an intimate séance with the place between life and death. Just in time for Halloween, the play will run Oct. 26 – 28, 2023 at Stoner Little Theater. To add to the play’s already eerie atmosphere, this play will be a special ‘late-night’ fringe performance, starting each night at 9 p.m.
More than just a scary ghost story, The Thin Place is a poignant reflection of the way fear shapes our world: “The Thin Place encourages us to reflect on the unseen things we fear, on the power of suggestion, and of walking into the unknown anyway,” says director Sommer Schoch. “It begs us to question how much of our daily lives are driven by avoidance of our fears and does that allow us to be guided in directions that we wouldn’t otherwise go?”
Sommer Schoch (Director) is the founder and Producing Artistic Director at FbTC. She studied Theatre & Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University before pursuing a dual Master’s degree in Arts Administration and Business Administration at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. Her directing credits include many FbTC shows, such as The Dollmaker, Rosies: The Women Who Riveted the Nation, and Pirates of Penzance.
Our play’s protagonist is Hilda (played by Jenny Denney), a soft spoken woman in her 30’s, haunted by the loss of loved ones. She invites us into her living room for tea, speaking to audience members directly about her unnerving upbringing and her belief in spaces between life and death, or as she calls them, “thin places”. Hilda believes that if she could only reach this place, she could communicate with the dead – a belief that ultimately leads her to Linda, a psychic medium. Linda (played by Johnna Atkinson-Bigelow), though not a true believer so much as a soothing master of suggestion, is a professional; she can make the dead speak and bring closure to the living who suffer their loss. At this point in the play, Hilda’s story begins to take new life in front of us, as Linda enters the stage with gravitas and mystery, promising her captive audience that “there is no death”.
Jenny Denney (Hilda) is the director of choir and theater at Southwestern High School. She made her FbTC debut in the spring of 2022, playing Clopas in Mary: Her Story. Most recently, she performed as Johanna in Flashback’s musical production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She is thrilled to be on stage in several productions this current season.
Johnna Atkinson-Bigelow (Linda) is excited to return to the FbTC stage. Previous performances include Steel Magnolias at Somerset Community College and Mary: Her Story, The Book of Will, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with Flashback. After receiving her Theater degree from Georgetown College and Communications degree from UK, she has been teaching at SCC for 30 years. She wants to thank her kids, Braden and Brynlee and husband/biggest fan, Brad for all the love, laughter, and lessons.
We learn that while Hilda and Linda are bonded by spiritualism, their belief is rooted in very different places: “Much like each of us, each character has their own way of dealing with the supernatural. Some characters use other’s belief in it to their advantage, even though they don’t personally buy in, while others have built their entire identity based on their unrelenting belief,” says Schoch. “Each character challenges others to see their own perspective, and that allows us as an audience to seek our own personal understanding of the supernatural.”
Joining the party with their own unique perspectives are Linda’s cousin Jerry (played by Gunner Richardson in his Main Cast Debut at Flashback), fascinated by Hilda, and Sylvia (played by newcomer Joy Chaney), whose perspective on psychics is rapidly turning towards doubt.
Gunner Richardson (Jerry) is a young actor and recent graduate of Southwestern High School, where he participated in theater classes. In 2022, he was a part of the junior cast of Flashback’s The American Parade. His interests include music theory, Dungeons and Dragons, Gundam, and hanging out with his friends.
Joy Chaney (Sylvia) is pleased to restart her acting journey at Flashback Theater. In 2008 she began as a “junior artist”, appearing in such productions as “Law and Order SVU” and Taking Chance, an HBO film. Some theater repertoire includes the Paramus Highschool Scholarship Musical and Marinated Steak and Socks at Cumberland College.
Hnath is a master of suggestion in his own right, using dialogue to create an eerie atmosphere that keeps audiences on their toes. You’re never quite sure who you can believe, so keen listening is required. To reflect this, the production team behind the play, including Tiffany Warren, Steffanie Phillippi, Bailey Patterson, and Gabe Nicholson, have taken a simplified approach to staging. Says director Schoch, “The set will exist in the space only as a place for characters to exist within the theater. In designing the set, we wanted to reflect that by keeping the furniture in the center of the space, allowing us to see everything front and center.”
Tiffany Warren (Stage Manager) Tiffany is a Theatre BA graduate from NKU and alumni of SCC. At SCC, she was in Steel Magnolias, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Radio Suspense Theater: The Final Episode. Working with FbTC, she has been in shows such as The American Parade, The Dollmaker, The Lady’s Not For Burning, The Book of Will, and As You Like It.
Steffanie Phillippi (Set Designer) is excited to be returning to the set, this time literally as a set designer! She loves the arts. Her FbTC credits include acting in The American Parade and Boats Against the Current. She also appeared in The Ten Minute Play Festival at SCC.
Bailey Patterson (Costume Designer) is a rising senior at the University of Kentucky, majoring in both Theatre and Disability Studies. Bailey has been involved with Flashback since 2016, and recalls fondly such roles as Sheri in American Hero, Lydia in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Celine in The American Parade, and most recently: Rosalind in As You Like It.
Gabriel Nicholson (Assistant Stage Manager) was the Stage Manager for Somerset High School’s production of The Addams Family and the Junior Stage Manager of Flashback’s The American Parade.
It should be noted that The Thin Place is most appropriate for audiences who aren’t afraid of the dark, as denoted by its designation as part of Flashback’s Fringe Series. “A fringe play is one that is a bit more challenging in topic or style,” says Schoch. “The Thin Place in particular is a bit darker than our usual theater fare, and while it certainly will be entertaining, it will also require some focus and attention on the part of an audience member. We are offering it at 9 p.m. because it will not have an intermission and is more suitable for adult audiences. We recommend ages 14 and up for this production.”
Flashback Theater Co. is proud to bring cutting-edge theatrical experiences to Somerset, KY and the surrounding region. The Thin Place will offer the unique experience of a ghost story whose terror lies not only in the tension built on stage, but in challenging each of us to contemplate our fear and the unanswerable questions that shape it.
The Thin Place
By Lucas Hnath | Directed by Sommer Schoch
October 26th -28th, 2023 | Stoner Little Theatre
Hilda recalls glimpses from her childhood into a world between our own and that of the dead: the thin place. Seeking out answers, she befriends Linda, who communicates with the dead professionally, but is not a true believer so much as a master of the power of suggestion. Over the course of a dinner party, they come too close for comfort with the disturbing reality of Hilda’s otherworldly experience, which Linda denies. This thriller invites audiences to question and experience the power of the supernatural and the fear it weaves into our lives.
Tickets can be purchased online at: https://fbtc.ticketleap.com/thin-place/ or by calling the box office at (888) 394-3282, ext. 1. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Single ticket pricing:
Adults – $23 Advance, $25 Door
Students – $12 Advance, $15 Door
Seniors – $20 Advance and Door
Season ticket holders will be contacted in the first week of ticket sales for each show to confirm the desired date of attendance. Seating will be assigned at the time of each show’s reservation. Tickets for each production will be sent via email. Season tickets are $85 and include a seat at each of the season’s five productions.
Season Sponsors & Supporters
Flashback Theater is grateful to our 2023-24 Spotlight Sponsors: Applied Behavioral Advancements, M&W Printing, The Shubert Foundation, The City of Somerset, David Daring Rentals, and Fenix Digital; as well as our Footlight Sponsors: Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital & Lake Cumberland Residency Programs, First & Farmer’s National Bank, The Weigel Family, United Cumberland Bank, T. Ronald Kidd Trust, Kinetic by Windstream, Somerset Community College, Toyotetsu America, Inc. (TTAI), Brad Bigelow of Century 21 Advantage Realty, and Buffalo Wings & Rings.
The Thin Place is presented with support from the show’s title sponsor: Weichert Realtors. Additional support is provided by: Artist Sponsor: Cintas, and Design Sponsors: American Woodmark and BRUSS North America.