The hard work of Narragansett High School senior and now fine theatre director Ryan Field will be on display 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday night in the school’s auditorium, as he puts on his version of A Bad Year For Tomatoes.
Field, 17, describes the 1975 play, originally written by dramatist John Patrick, as a comedy, which fits with his interests.
“I knew I wanted to do a comedy, and then I based my research paper [for his project] off of the psychological and physical effects of comedy on the human,” he said. “I recognized the writer and thought it would be good.”
Field said he picked the play based on his familiarity with Patrick’s material, thanks to his work on a previous production of A Curious Savage. A lot of the possible plays he read over the summer were dark comedies, and he preferred Tomatoes, which has moments of slapstick and absurd humor.
He added that his mentor, producer Joel Kipper of Theatre by the Sea in Matunuck, was instrumental in picking Tomatoes and getting himself organized.
“At the beginning, he kind of got me on my feet,” Field said. “He basically sat me down and said, ‘You have to get this done by this date.’”
Field said he uses his own extensive acting experience to help shape his cast’s performance. Although he’s only a high school senior, he has had the “little kid” parts in plays stretching back to third grade.
“Once high school hit, I was able to try out for the leads, and I’ve been the lead or supporting role in all of them,” he said. “Probably my favorite role was in Rumors, which I did two years ago when I was a sophomore. I had a three-page monologue that I had to memorize. I liked the challenge of it and I liked the character.”
Field said he’s had an interest in theater since that early age.
“In third or second grade, I started with an acting workshop with the South County Players, and I did a summer camp with them,” he said.
The cast is comprised of Narragansett High School students Laine Wagner, Devin Vietri, Mitch Champlin and Vinny Ballirano, and juniors Hailey Kisseberth and Sophia Scalora. Rachel Andronowitz is serving as the stage manager.
Field added that one of his good friends, Block Island resident Rich Tretheway, was also in the cast, taking the role he initially imagined for himself.
“When I picked this show, I thought I was going to have to act,” he said. “I really wanted to focus on directing, so I’m only directing and producing … Luckily for him, I don’t have to act in the show.”
Field said that for the most part, he worked as the director for the production, with Kipper working as a “fine-tuner” when it came to individual scenes.
“He took a scene between Laine and Vinnie and polished it up,” Field said. “If I don’t know how to word something, I’ll let him do the dirty work. He’s helping me with the production process as well.”
Field said he could definitely feel the difference between directing and performing.
“When you’re acting, you’ll be halfway through the show, and you’re not sure if it’s going to come together,” he said. “When you’re the actor, you kind of take for granted how much work it takes the director to [do] that. I didn’t realize how much work it was going to be.”
Field has been a lifelong resident of Narragansett. He said he lives close to the high school with his little brother Jared, an eighth grade at the Pier School, and his parents, Donna and David.
“We’re right down the road, within walking distance of the school,” he said, adding that it helps him out when it comes to getting extra sleep in the morning. “That’s always been a saving grace.”
Following graduation, Field said he’s planning on attending Rhode Island College, although he was also looking at Fordham University in New York. He hadn’t decided on an exact major yet, but education, English, writing, journalism and photography all appealed to him.
A Bad Year For Tomatoes plays 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday in the high school auditorium. A small admission is collected at the door, with proceeds going to the Narragansett theatre program.