Eighth installment of Shorts features comedic majority 

PLAINVIEW - Got laughs? Wayland Baptist University theatre does, in its annual production of short plays titled, what else, Shorts.

This year's lineup, specifically called Shorts VIII: On the Ropes, features four comedic vignettes and one dramatic piece. Theatre-goers should welcome the change, says WBU theatre director Dr. Marti Runnels.

"There is more humor this year than in previous years," Runnels noted. "There are less of the heavy, contemplative pieces that have been performed in the past. These are more funny pieces, with only one serious piece."

Proof of that is evident with one look at the lineup of plays: Three are by David Ives. Ives' work is known for its humor and satire, and the Chicago native's plays are no stranger to the WBU stage. Runnels has directed the full-length All in the Timing (a collection of short pieces) and several others Ives pieces have appeared in previous Shorts productions.

"I think Ives is the one who inspired me to do Shorts in the first place. We did the show All in the Timing many moons ago. When reading about Ives, I discovered that he'd basically written a lot of short pieces and put them into one evening, and I felt like we could do the same," Runnels said. "Ives is the king of using words with double and triple meanings. When I read his stuff, I immediately had an affinity for it."

Runnels said the format of Shorts remains true to the original design developed eight years ago: He reads 40-50 scripts, culls the group down to 7 or 8 and then lets the student directors read them and rank their preferences. Usually, students in Runnels' fall directing class direct the Shorts plays, but this year no directing class is being held. Students who have taken the class previously stepped up to the plate this year, along with one recent theatre graduate, Brandon Campanella.

From there, students take the reins, helping with casting, set and costume design, lighting, sound and general directorial roles. Runnels stays close by to provide artistic advice.

The plays are as follows:

  • "Arabian Nights" by David Ives: This short play involves a romantic couple, played by Craig Huckeby and Launa Turpin, who can't understand each other and seek help from a translator, played by Jennifer Riley. Riley is a veteran of the Wayland stage, while Huckeby, her brother, has appeared in Shorts VII and in The Artificial Jungle. Turpin is a newcomer to Wayland. Milea Simpson, another WBU stage veteran, directs.
  • "I Will Go. I Will Go" by Glen Berger. The lone serious piece in the production, this short play deals with a man who is swimming the English Channel and deals with his thoughts and experiences along the way. Chris Stegall, a Wayland senior, plays the lead role of H.F. Sullivan, with other cast members including stage veterans Tim Fisher, Lisa Angel and Andrew Oglesby and newcomers Paul Finley, Jeff Raines, Kaela Kelley, Chris Bevis and Erin Luckie. Direction is by Brandon Campanella.
  • "Babel's in Arms" by Ives. Directed by senior theatre major Billy Boone, this play is a humorous take on the building of the Tower of Babel. Fisher, Huckeby and Riley star, along with Milea Simpson and newcomer Tito Schwabe.
  • "Happy Talking" by Laura Shaine Cunningham. Mel, played by theatre veteran Kelley Dunn, is dealing with personal issues in this piece, while various phone companies vie for her business. Veterans Mary Feril and Jennifer Rutherford also star, along with newcomers Chris Bevis, Kaela Kelley and Warren Yeatman. Direction is by Lisa Angel.
  • "Words, Words, Words" by Ives. A scientist sets up an experiment with three monkeys and three typewriters to determine if they'll come up with anything brilliant. Stage veterans Milea Simpson and Billy Boone star, along with newcomer Grant Jasper. Jennifer Riley directs.

Stage managers for the production are Jennifer Rutherford and Lisa Angel, with sound by Grant Jasper and Tim Fisher. Lights are by Mary Feril and Craig Huckeby, with Curtis Morales and Kellie Walls aiding with props and Launa Turpin with publicity.

Shorts hits the Harral Studio Theatre stage at 8 p.m. on Oct. 1 and 2 and again on Oct. 7, 8, and 9. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for students and Wayland alums. For reservations, call the theatre box office at 291-1087.