Cast of ‘Skeleton Stories’ reveals how characters’ backgrounds are created


Tommy Andersen practices a warm up exercise before the rehearsal for American River College theater department’s production of “Skeleton Stories.” The play opened on Friday. (Photo by Joseph Daniels)

Joseph Daniels

By Joseph Daniels and Matthew Peirson

A previous version of this story falsely reported that the white robe of Santa Muerte represented her elevation above nature and that the red robe represented passion and that in the story Santa Muerte wants Maya to use magic. In fact, white represents protection, red represents spells and curses and Santa Muerte wants Maya to stop using magic.

The creative mind a theater actor is tested every time he or she goes through the process of getting into character, but the supporting actors of the American River College theater production of “Skeleton Stories” are given an additional twist: they are able to make up the backgrounds of their characters.

Jacob Tucker, who portrays Jean-Luc Pierre, said that while the responsibility of creating the parts of a character can be challenging, he enjoys the freedom to experiment.

“I try to think of them as a bit of an extension of myself,” Tucker said. “As in, what would I do if I was this character and what would that character do in a given situation.”

Tucker describes Pierre as “what you’d call a ‘starving artist.’ ”

“It was a dream of his to become famous,” Tucker said. “And those dreams were crushed when he was hit by a car.”

Tucker decided to make Pierre an artist because of his personal affinity for drawing.

It was Pamela Downs, the director of “Skeleton Stories,” who came up with the idea to make Pierre a Frenchman, which Tucker then based the rest of the character off of.

Itzin Alpizar, who was cast in the role of Santa Muerte, also came up with aspects of her character for the theater production.

Santa Muerte is a figure who personifies death in Latino folk Catholicism. Santa Muerte has three “robes” representing her three attributes — white for protection, red for spells and curses and black for death.

Alpizar said her character takes features of all three versions of Santa Muerte.

Alpizar said that Santa Muerte tells Maya to stop using magic to ask her mom to remember her.

Tommy Andersen plays the role of a 8-year-old boy who was shot and killed. He said that it was particularly difficult to capture the voice of a child.

Sebastian Barron and Kori Einsel play the role of a married couple who died in a motorcycle accident.

“I enjoy kind of the dynamic of Sebastian’s character and I have, to play off another person than to justify a character yourself,” said Einsel.