By Brandi Hutcheson
The theatre department will debut its first show, “An Evening of John Millington Synge.” It will consist of two Irish one-act plays titled Riders to the Sea and In the Shadow of the Glen.
The showings will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-22 and March 6-8 and 3 p.m. March 9 in the Experimental Theatre. Tickets cost $7 for adults, $5 for students and faculty and $3 for groups of ten and more.
Both of the one-act plays were written by Irish playwright John Millington Synge; hence the collective title. Synge’s plays are said to reflect the culture of the era he lived in.
Riders to the Sea takes the audience into the lives of families living on the Aran islands off the coast of Ireland and the hardships they face when they lose the males in their lives to the sea. Theatre major L’Hannah Riehl is Maurya, the main character in the play.
“She is the mom of this family,” Riehl said. “Basically they have no way of livelihood because they lost all the men in their lives. It’s mainly a story about what all these people on these island go through because it’s not just this family that it happens to – it happens to all of the families on this island.”
Theatre major Alex Hernandez plays Bentley, Maurya’s son in the play.
“He’s the last of his brothers, so he’s the last man in the house,” Hernandez said.
“There’s a type of responsibility that’s fallen on him but his mother, who has lost all of her sons and husband, and is just a complete mess. She doesn’t want him to go, but he knows what he has to do to help his family even if it means disobeying your mother to do what’s right.”
Hernandez said he usually tries to take something from each of his characters as well as put something from himself into each of his characters.
“What I think I am going to get from Bentley is a sense of responsibility,” Hernandez said.
In addition to Riders to the Sea, there will be a production of a second one-act play by Synge called In the Shadow of the Glen.
Theatre major Emily Thongboutsady plays Nora, the lead character.
“She’s really strong-willed,” Thongboutsady said. “She lives with this guy that she married and she hates him, and she learns to be really hard and really strong because she’s really lonely.”
Both of the plays feature an Irish dialect, and according to Riehl and Thongsboutsady, it is a challenging but rewarding aspect of the plays.
Riehl said she takes her enjoyment from being able to interact with other people who have the same passion she does and getting to feed off each other’s talent.
“It’s definitely a hard field, but when you work that many hours a night with these same people over and over again, they become your best friends,” Riehl said. “It’s more than just a friendship; they become your family.
Average attendance for plays ranges about 75 to 80 attendees per show, and musicals usually draw in more, said Monty Downs, an instructor and technical director for the theatre department.
One does not have to be a theatre major to audition for the plays, and auditions are open to anyone, including non-students.
The requirements for the audition depend on the play being cast.
The goal of theatre is to always entertain, Downs said, but other shows are intended to teach, and students should try different things while they’re at college whether its theatre or art or music.
“They need to go out and experience things,” Downs said. “They may come across something that they may have never thought about before that interest them or that they decide they’d like. ”
Downs said people see shows, get hooked and end up coming back to see shows even when they’re no longer attending AC.
The theatre department receives a budget each semester to go toward productions, and their expenses and the proceeds that come from ticket sales go toward a theatre arts scholarship to help students go to school.
“Widen your horizons when you’re in college,” Downs said.