Photo provided
Molly Quade reads through the script of “Curse of the Starving Class.”

Photo provided Molly Quade reads through the script of “Curse of the Starving Class.”

WICA plans first live play in more than a year

The show will run June 10-20.

A regional arts organization is planning its 101st theater production for an in-person audience this June.

Just over one year ago, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, known as WICA, celebrated its 100th show, “Red.” The organization closed its doors at the height of the pandemic but was able to reopen during the summer under new COVID-19 guidelines.

After a period of pivoting to the silver screen, the organization has been able to slowly bring back some performances to the theater, including music, art talks and a live version of “98260,” a talk show featuring guests local to Whidbey.

Now WICA is gearing up to produce “Curse of the Starving Class,” a dark comedy by Sam Shepard. A small cast will begin rehearsing in May and will take center stage June 10-20.

Deana Duncan, WICA’s artistic director, said the play was originally chosen for the 2020 season.

“I didn’t let go of this play because at its core it’s a survival story, how we are often born into and cling to a culture, how our childhood informs our choices and our whole lives,” Duncan said.

The play focuses on members of a dysfunctional family who struggle for food, freedom and meaning in their lives. There are nine character breakdowns, but Duncan said she might combine the two villains into one role.

Many of the leads have been cast already, but people can still audition for some of the smaller roles. Auditions require doing a “cold reading” of the script. To audition, email Duncan at

Duncan has been wanting to direct this show for nearly 30 years. She played the “angry daughter” role when she was 20 years old as her first professional role with the Nevada Repertory Company.

Although it’s hard to predict what phase Island County will be in by June, Duncan is confident that COVID-19 guidelines will allow for at least 50 percent capacity in indoor entertainment venues by then. WICA helped the Washington State Arts Commission co-write reopening plans for the arts sector.

In addition, the organization recently had a new HVAC system installed, which helps purify the air.

Theatergoers will notice other big changes, too. About half of the theater’s seats have been removed to allow for adequate social distancing. Tables with little lamps now accompany the seats, making room for snacking and drinking. Big and elaborate sets, which are more costly, most likely won’t be making a comeback until 2022.

Duncan estimated that the space is currently set up to seat about 60 to 90 socially distanced guests per performance.

“We are ready and anxious to have indoor art,” she said.

“It is scary, but I have a lot of faith that we’re not going to go backwards,” she added.

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