Tickets are now on sale for OBU’s production of “World Premiere One-Acts.” Performances are scheduled for March 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and March 7 at 2:30 p.m. All performances will take place in Sarkeys Black Box Theater on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
Tickets are $5 for students and $12 for adults. Advance purchase is required in order to maintain physical distancing and face coverings are required to attend the performance. Tickets may be purchased online.
Three plays will premiere during the performance. “Truly, Truly,” was written by Madison Stone, junior creative writing major, and will be directed by Garrett Wheeler, senior theatre major. “Snake Eyes: A Dark Comedy,” was written by Zoe Beth Burdess, sophomore theatre major, and will be directed by Dr. Hephzibah Dutt, assistant professor of theatre and director of theatre at OBU. The third play is, “Pen and Paper,” written by Larashleigh Wallace, junior theatre and social entrepreneurship double major, and directed by Jennifer Ezell, guest director.
The World Premiere One-Acts is the culmination of a competitive “new works” process. Students from the fall 2020 playwriting class were given a prompt to write a one-act that “treated an issue that is relevant to communities today,” be it a local, national or global community. After two rounds of workshops and revisions, playwrights were invited to submit their one-acts for a competitive assessment by an off-campus jury of theatre artists, writers and educators, along with other members of the OBU community, including faculty and alumni. All plays were assessed blindly, with no indication of the playwright’s identity or status. The three top-scoring scripts were then announced to OBU Theatre’s production team of directors and designers in early January.
“Truly, Truly,” is a story about love, grief, guilt and reality, melded into a suspenseful drama.
“This world is filled with loss, and our stories reflect this,” Stone said. “The examples are as endless as the list of things viable for forfeit—love, wealth, faith, freedom, sanity. However, I don’t think the main theme is the loss itself. I think it’s how we deal with it.”
“I open my script with the quote ‘Reality denied comes back to haunt,’” she continued. “In this situation, it’s the reaction that is the catalyst. Something is lost, sure, but the response to it is what progresses the story, defining character, building the plot and sending us on our merry way to the ending, good or bad. The way in which problems are dealt with is infinitely more important than the problems themselves.”
Wheeler is excited for the opportunity to direct Stone’s work.
“What drew me to this script was how it portrays denial and guilt,” he said. “These are two heavy emotions that weight at the soul. Playwright Madison Stone took these concepts and made something really clever with the story. The message of how denial and guilt eat at the soul and hurt the heart captivated me, and it was this theme that instantly drew me to the story.”
Student playwright Zoe Burdess crafted, “Snake Eyes: A Dark Comedy,” from inspiration she drew upon from murder mysteries, with the scene opening with, “a dead body, a kind-hearted gentleman, and a quick-witted lady…who’s holding a knife.”
“This play isn’t truly what you call a murder mystery but more of a fun romp through what should have been a case closed that turns into a dark comedy,” Burdess said. “The message of this play is to choose who you trust, know who your friends are and who you are as a person because your decisions will affect your actions.
“One of the key themes I wanted to illustrate in ‘Snake Eyes’ was the idea of deceit. In terms of today's society, deception is part of it. People will hurt you and it will affect how you look at people whether it's a co-worker, a friend or even your brother, but finding that one person who has your back will help bring the light in such dark times as these.”
Dutt has enjoyed directing “Snake Eyes” and looks forward to its premiere.
“Writing comedy is usually a daunting task for most young playwrights. I have noticed they tend to the dramatic in their early plays. It is a delight, therefore, to work with Zoe Burdess’s new script which is not only dark comedy, but also a period piece. Her blend of the 1920’s setting with the uncanny, deplorably likeable characters and comic presentation of the macabre gives us a world where everything is just slightly askew…it’s like you have to tilt your head to see it right.”
“Pen and Paper” by Larashleigh Wallace is based on a story from the life of American journalist Nellie Bly, as she attempts to expose the institutional abuses inside a women’s lunatic asylum by going undercover as an inmate.
“I discovered the story of Nellie Bly when looking for strong female figures throughout American history,” Wallace said. “I was completely taken aback that I had never heard of her story. She went into the insane asylum, without knowing if she would get out, all to get a story of what was really going on.
“I hope the audience can connect with these characters, I hope they see how humanity is really what brings us together. I hope audience members can see how they can help so many people, just by stepping out of their comfort zone.”
Ezell is excited for the opportunity to direct the work.
“While about a real historical event, ‘Pen and Paper’ also captures how quickly we can dehumanize others for being different from ourselves. And the process of dehumanizing others strips us of our humanity – of our grace, kindness and love – at the same time.”
The cast of “Truly, Truly” includes Ethan Wood, senior journalism major, as Seth; Erin Wilson, junior theatre major, as Lilly; and Sarah Bross, sophomore political science major, as Callum.
Performers in “Snake Eyes: A Dark Comedy” include Kennedy Largent, sophomore English education major, as Adelaide; Nathan Goforth, sophomore theatre major, as Henry; and Donald Garrison, sophomore cross-cultural ministry major, as Officer Roberts.
“Pen and Paper” features Anna Smolen, junior theatre major, as Nellie; Emily Russell, freshman theatre major, as Nurse; and Zoe Burdess, sophomore theatre major, as Juliet.