Wofford Theatre’s production of “Twilight Bowl” is a comedy, but that doesn’t mean audiences won’t walk away with much to reflect on when it comes to serious issues impacting society.

The play is based in a small-town Wisconsin bowling alley, where a few friends gather and soon recognize the divide widening between them. It was written by playwright Rebecca Gilman and debuted in 2019.

“Audiences can expect to laugh and enjoy themselves, but at the same time they will be challenged and provoked by the material, the characters and the staging,” says Dan Day, associate professor of theatre and the play’s director.

Wofford Theatre’s production will run Nov. 4-6 and Nov. 10-13 in the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre. All performances will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for Wofford’s faculty and staff and $12 for the public. The college’s COVID-19 protocols require masks while inside campus buildings.

Thirty-five Wofford students have been involved with the production, including the cast, crew, designers and students working with Wofford Theatre’s Technical Director David Kenworthy.

The rehearsal process involved several group research projects that examined social and cultural issues that will be explored in the play. The cast examined the opioid crisis in the United States, the relationship between incarceration and poverty, the history of feminism and the role of Christianity in American culture and politics.

“We felt we had to do our best to understand and portray as truthfully as possible the world of the play—a world of drug abuse and addiction, substandard levels of education, domestic violence, poverty, low wages and limited opportunity,” Day says. “And so even though ‘Twilight Bowl’ is a comedy, there is a very strong undercurrent of analysis and critique in our version.”

Taylor Giles ’23, an English major from West Columbia, South Carolina, is the only male cast member, and he’s portraying a transexual female.

“The character I play is Sharlene, a 19-year-old Christian transgender woman,” Giles says. “She's confident about who she is and what she believes, and she is driven by her passions to help others. Taking on the challenge of playing a woman, a trans woman no less, is certainly difficult. The primary ways I’ve prepared to play this role are studying some more ‘feminine’ physical mannerisms, talking to real trans women about their experiences and researching Sharlene's religious background and her beliefs.”

Giles hopes audiences attending the production will walk away respecting everyone’s humanity.

“People that you may write off, for one reason or another, are people nonetheless—especially people who are marginalized or in poverty,” Giles says. “They all have their own story, their own challenges, burdens and moral failings. But they also have humor, light, joy and convictions. To make a quick judgement on someone due to their appearance or external personality is to disregard their humanity. The willingness, or lack thereof, to change is a big part of the show, and I hope that people walk away thinking about their own lives in comparison to this group of six incredibly interesting women.”