Conversations about the dining room table can be awkward in real life but they've got nothing on the kind that take the stage this week at Cal State Bakersfield. Actors will take on many roles as they sit down for meals in the varied scenes of "The Dining Room" at the Dore Theatre starting Thursday.

Director Zoe Saba wrote of the play by A.R. Gurney, "This show is a collection of short scenes that sometimes overlap, where we get glimpses of the lives of people who lived and loved and laughed and cried in the same dining room throughout different decades."

Saba said she was drawn in by the actor-driven production, in which each of the six actors — Guinevere PH Defthlefson, Trenton Benet, Dakota Nash, Kaelah Stevens, Brian Purcell and Taylor Clark — play nine to 10 roles each.

"It’s great fun to work with these talented students and watch them create the many characters that inhabit our 'dining room.'"

The interrelated scenes vary from humorous to drama, focused on a family of upper-middle-class WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) referring to a group often considered the most dominant, privileged, and influential in American society.

Vignettes include a father lecturing his son on grammar and politics, a daughter pleading to return home after her marriage collapses, a senile woman who doesn't recognize her own sons at Christmas dinner and more.

Saba said, "I love the way all the scenes are woven together and collectively how this collection of moments create a whole that is moving, and funny, and surprising, just like life."

"The Dining Room" opens Thursday and runs through Sunday at the theater on campus.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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