The metaphorical curtain will rise tonight, Aug. 17, when the late Matt Starring's play, "BEAST," debuts in the Barrington library auditorium.
The 7:30 pm performance will mark the first time that "BEAST" takes the stage in its rewritten form with an ensemble of five. It will play again Thursday, Aug. 18, at Emerson College in Boston, and Friday Aug. 19, at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, also at 7:30 pm.
Starring, of Barrington, passed away in 2009 after a battle with cancer. Before he died, he asked his friends to finish his one-man play and show it to the public.
After two years of revisions, the play has been rendered complete. "BEAST" chronicles Starring's saga with cancer -- from the day he was diagnosed, to going into remission, to becoming sick once again.
The ensemble includes Kathleen Bebeau, Christine Stulik, Will Valles of Barrington, Jeff Marcus, and Starring's father, Mark, of Barrington. With the exception of Bebeau, the actors all knew Starring while he was battling leukemia.
Each actor will take a turn playing Starring in addition to acting in multiple other roles as the play walks the audience through a tumultuous year of the playwright's life, when he was in and out of hospitals while transitioning between home and college.
The actors have been rehearsing at Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence intensively for a week to prepare for the performance. "BEAST" has been a learning experience for those involved, and they hope that the audience will also be able to take something away from the performance.
"It's really important that people can get to know Matt," producer Rita O'Connell said. "The majority of the public only knows his story from the eyes of the newspaper."
The ensemble also wishes that the play will be able to touch the audience on a more personal level.
"This isn't a second funeral," O'Connell said. "He made this amazing piece of art and we're going to share it."
Through the play, the ensemble wishes to share Starring's wisdom with the world.
"Matt had those truths about life laid down -- life happens no matter what you do, and you never really know when you are going to get cancer or get hit by a train," O'Connell said.
"We're trying to make it universal, so other people understand," Marcus said. "Matt's story is something everyone can identify with. At the very end, you just need to go and do life; there's no reason to sit around."