Theatre production features metaphor for journey of life

PLAINVIEW – Most people can identify with the experience of a family road trip and the wealth of emotions evoked by such events.

Scott Crew prefers to think of those experiences as a metaphor for life’s journey, and the newest production from the Wayland Baptist University theatre department reflects his belief as well as the playwright.

Approaching Zanzibar, a drama by Tina Howe, will provide audiences with many comedic moments, said Crew, who is serving as guest director for the production. But the subtext is much deeper and more poignant.

The play involves the Blossom family of New York, undertaking a cross-country car trip to visit dying Aunt Olivia in New Mexico. The family meets many characters along the way and also learns a lot about each other in the process.

“The play is really about our legacies and what we leave behind,” Crew said. “That’s what’s most important as we go through this journey of life.”

A native of Oklahoma, Crew is pursuing a doctorate in theatre at Texas Tech and serving as visiting assistant professor there. He’s also served as an adjunct instructor at Wayland in past years and responded affirmatively to WBU Theatre Director Marti Runnels’ request to return as guest director.

The role has been a challenge, both for Crew and for the student actors under his tutelage. For one, Runnels chose the play while picking his season lineup, meaning Crew had to become familiar with Howe’s style and the text. It’s also been a challenge for Crew to juggle his teaching duties at Tech with late-night rehearsals in Plainview and working around the university’s fall break in late October.

Though Crew is no stranger to directing, noting he’s even picked up direction on two shows at Tech due to extenuating circumstances, he welcomed the chance to step into the role again and said the experience at Wayland has stretched him by allowing him to work with students trained in different methods and processes.

“It’s been a wonderful challenge, but it has been work for me,” he said. “Some plays you can just take the humor and run with it, but you can’t really do that with this one. There are parts of this play that are serious sand I felt it necessary to balance that.”

The students have been challenged as well, Crew said.

“This shows them a different perspective,” he said. “Marti’s style is going to be different than mind and this gives them a chance to see how others do things. They have different understandings and I have to convey my own style to them.”

Crew admits his style is still evolving. After earning a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., Crew worked as a professional actor for two years before joining the ranks in the business world and serving as a buyer and manager for the JCPenney Company. The death of a friend made him realize how fleeting life is, and Crew said he did the unheard of – quitting his job to pursue a calling to theatre.

He then earned a master’s degree from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and taught at Southwestern Oklahoma State before coming to Lubbock to pursue the doctorate. He intends to teach on the college level after graduating in 2005.

Approaching Zanzibar, which Crew notes is a relatively short play with two 45-minute acts, will be performed Nov. 12, 13 and 18, 19 and 20 in the Harral Studio Theatre. Performances will begin at 8 p.m., with tickets priced at $8 for adults and $4 for students. The second weekend of performances are held in conjunction with Wayland’s homecoming events, with show tickets priced at $4 for WBU alumni.

Billy Boone, WBU senior theatre major, plays Wally Blossom, with senior theatre veteran Jennifer Riley playing wife Charlotte. Freshman theatre newcomer Jeff Raines fills the role of son Turner, with sophomore theatre major Mary Feril playing daughter Pony. Milea Simpson, junior theatre major and veteran as well, plays Aunt Olivia.

A cast of characters met along the way are played by an ensemble featuring theatre veterans Jennifer Rutherford, Andrew Oglesby, Timothy Fisher and Kelley Dunn.

Reservations are encouraged by calling the theatre box office at (806) 291-1087.