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Presenting the 2016-17 Radford University Theatre Season
by Wesley Young
The Radford University Department of Theatre and Cinema proudly announces an exciting season 2016-17 that asks “What’s your history?” Whether it is keeping a diary to have something sensational to read in the train or to chronicle one of history’s greatest tragedies, the thread running through the season is that many of the characters, in his or her own way, are intent on recording and sharing their stories. Two young women want to keep track of their romances; a young man needs to work through a life-altering mistake. A feisty little girl is determined to track the travails of first grade and another student must complete a paper for a grade. Two of the characters are compelled to write by lives and forces outside their control. And all of them and the department of Theatre want to share these stories with you!
First up, Radford University Theatre proudly presents “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a dramatization of the best-known memoir of the Holocaust by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman. This testament to the frailty and strength of the human spirit opens the Pridemore Playhouse season starting Oct. 11. The production is directed by assistant professor Robyn Berg.
Take a trip to the early 19th century as the Porterfield Ensemble presents “Poe – Dark Genius, Troubled Life” Oct. 27 and 28. Professor Wesley Young, in conjunction with ensemble members, is devising this journey into the mind of the master of the macabre who is considered by many to be America’s first professional writer. The Ensemble’s primary mission is touring to area high schools and middle schools, but you are invited to the special on-campus presentation of this fall’s offering just in time for Halloween!
Speaking of history, Theatre alumnus Stephen Baltz returns to his old stomping grounds to direct the Hawes Studio Theatre production of “Dancing on Checkers’ Grave” by Eric Lane, opening Nov. 2. In the play, set right by the grave of President Nixon’s celebrated canine, two very different high school girls meet up to work on a homework assignment. But an imaginary car ride leads to a very real discovery about themselves and one another…not to mention a “nefarious” use for donuts!
A hallmark of the Pridemore Season is the annual Theatre for Young Audience production. This year, the much-loved Junie B. Jones hits the stage in “Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” by Allison Gregory. Visiting faculty member Molly Hood directs Junie’s impish romp through the Christmas season, which performs Dec. 3.
Theatre student Reginald Dantzler-Willie tackles “Praying for Rain” by Robert Lewis Vaughan. The tragic repercussions of a lost identity find Marc, a star high school athlete, spiraling dangerously out of control. But for Marc, redemption seems a distant hope like that of a prayer for rain in a drought. See his story in February in the Hawes studio theatre.
In the words of that “Lord of Language” Oscar Wilde, the truth is rarely pure and never simple. But sorting it out is sure to be great fun when Wilde’s mischievous masterpiece of wit “The Importance of Being Earnest” floats like a butterfly onto the Hayes Stage in April. Professor of Theatre Wesley Young directs a student cast with a surprise guest artist.
Following a long tradition the season caps off in late April with “Making a Scene” when students of the Advanced Directing Class present their final projects. This one act play festival is an eclectic bag of zany and thought-provoking works promising something for every taste. The Hawes Studio Theatre is the setting for all the fun.
So, whether you relate to journaling for fun, writing to work out a problem, to preserve your story or you simply shudder at the thought of your high school term paper, the people and plays of the 2016-17 season offer much to look forward to. And, who knows? They may just inspire to reflect on your own history.