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New Play About A Surreal Midlife Crisis Premieres In Kalamazoo

Julia (Shannon Fleckenstein) and Treat (Paris Rutter) in Corinne J. Kawecki's play "The Days Are Shorter"
Laura Henderson

This weekend, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo will be the first to perform a brand new play called “The Days Are Shorter” by Chicago playwright Corinne J. Kawecki. It’s a surreal journey about a midlife crisis.

The show runs January 11th through January 14th at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo.

The main character, Julia, isn’t coping well with getting older. She's dating a woman named Treat, who’s about 30 years younger than her. 

“She talks about how being around young people makes her feel alive and I think she’s flattered by it," said Shannon Fleckenstein who plays the role of Julia.

"But she also is torn because at times she doesn’t feel like Treat knows what she’s talking about.”

Paris Rutter plays Treat. She says her character likes that Julia is older, but still a free spirit.

“Treat is very ambitious. One thing I admire about her as a character is that she’s not very tied down by what other people think would be reality," said Rutter. 

"She is an aspiring magician and she doesn’t care — she’s going to go to school to be a magician. Never mind that that’s not something people would normally go to school for. She’s very passionate and goes for what she believes in.”

But Pax, Julia’s up-tight ex, is having none of this. Despite the fact that they broke up a long time ago, Julia is still living in Pax’s condo. But now, Pax wants her out. If that wasn’t stressful enough, Julia is hearing voices — or at least one.

“The voice seems to know a lot and wants Julia to remember things, but it doesn’t give her any hints as to what she’s supposed to remember or what she’s supposed to be feeling," said Fleckenstein. "It chases after her throughout the show.”

"She's so busy searching for something, searching for answers — what she first thinks is in her youth and then she sees the wisdom and thinks maybe it's in her future"

But things start to change for Julia when she meets Ada. She’s a woman in her 70s who doesn’t want to go alone to an event and hires Julia as an escort.

“She’s kind of over all the young stuff and not interested in the least to return to a youth. She’s more interested in just living her life at 76 and enjoying her world," said Ellen Bennett who plays the role of Ada. "But she’s also that other voice of reason.”

Director Sarah MacLean says we can all relate to feeling stuck like Julia.

“She’s so busy searching for something, searching for answers — what she first thinks is in her youth and then she sees the wisdom and thinks maybe it’s in her future," she said. "And just spends so much time focusing on searching for all of these answers and missing that it’s right within you, in this moment. Right here, right now.”

MacLean says eventually that voice that’s following Julia doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

“This warped, kind of funky-sounding voice becomes more human and then eventually becomes very familiar — and you’ll have to come see the show to find out,” she said.

Queer Theatre Kalamazoo will perform the world premiere of the play “The Days Are Shorter” through Sunday at First Congregational Church.

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