‘Buried Child’ play examines the reality of the American dream


Rudy Obstaculo - The State Hornet

The "Buried Child" set after the play Wednesday, Nov. 7. The setting for "Buried Child" is a deteriorating farmhouse.

Rudy Obstaculo

“Buried Child” is the latest Sacramento State theater production, directed by Roberto Pomo, made its debut on Nov. 7 and planned to go through Nov. 18. 

Due to classes being canceled until after Thanksgiving break, the theater department canceled performances Nov. 16 through Nov. 18. They have since added new show dates from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2.

Tickets purchased for canceled shows will be honored at the new show dates.

The play, written by Sam Shepard, is an allegory that examines the concept of the American dream and takes place at a time when the economy was collapsing for farmers in the Midwest, according to Pomo.

“Even though it was written to mirror the 1970s, it is more relevant today than it was then,” Pomo said. “It’s a timeless piece and I think it fits what we are experiencing in our society today.”

A general audition was held during the summer for both “Buried Child” and Sac State’s other production “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which ran in October. Auditions were open to Sac State students as well as the community.

“We had something like 60 actors audition for both plays,” Pomo said. “And then we sit down and we talk about who’s best for this role, who’s best for that role.”

Rudy Obstaculo – The State Hornet
The actor list along with the play sets for “Buried Child.”

One of the actors in “Buried Child,” Donald Lawrence Glass, originally auditioned to portray Peter in “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

When the senior theater major didn’t land the role, he later received an email from Pomo to audition for the part of Vince in “Buried Child.”

“It was kind of surprising because: A, I wasn’t even auditioning for the role and then b, it kind of gave me a chance to not necessarily be as coo-coo crazy as the characters in ‘Peter in the Starcatcher’ but more grounded, realistic individuals,” Glass said.

Two of the actors performing in the play are from outside the university, according to Pomo.

Sonny Alforque, 71, is a guest performer who plays Dodge, the alcoholic patriarch of the family who considers himself a failure.

Alforque said that Dodge is one of the most challenging characters he has had to portray.

“I think all those dimensions make it a very challenging and very interesting character to portray,” Alforque said. “It involves absurd comedy, it involves a lot of complexities and depth to the character that have to come out.”

Ted Ridgway, a math professor at American River College, portrays Tilden, the son who comes back home to unravel a dark family secret.

“That’s the one thing that makes him different from the rest of the family. He’s not afraid to look it in the eye and drag it out into the daylight,” Ridgway said.

The work on the production’s set started in June. The stage production and design, costumes and music were important factors to accurately tell the story, according to Pomo.

Rudy Obstaculo – The State Hornet
The scale model for the production set of “Buried Child.” Building the stage for the play started in June and it was important that the design was realistic, according to Pomo.

“Because it is hyper-realism, everything has to appear real,” Pomo said.

When the audience watches this play, Pomo said he hopes they will examine and reflect about “who we are as Americans” and what the American dream is really about.

“The play is really an allegory in many ways, so that’s what I want them to think about, and laugh and cry because it is a tragic comedy,” Pomo said.