Wayland to host Christian University Theatre Festival

PLAINVIEW  -- Wayland Baptist University will be among three theatre troupes sharing their talents on March 7 and 8 when the Christian University Theatre Festival rolls into Plainview.

Wayland is playing host for the event, which rotates annually between the campuses of Christian schools across the state. The festival event brings other schools like Wayland together to share their productions in a learning experience for students and directors alike.

“This is not a judged event, but we bring in a respondent who talks about each production for 45 minutes to an hour after each show, making comments and giving suggestions,” explained Dr. Marti Runnels, theatre director at Wayland, adding that Robert Singleton of Houston will serve as respondent for this year’s event.

The event culminates in a presentation of acting awards and honors for technical categories, decided upon in advance by the schools and chosen by the respondent.

Runnels said the event was organized about 10 years ago by Wayland, Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee as an alternative to the more expensive American College Theatre Festival, which required more travel and higher costs. Plus, by gathering like-minded universities, Runnels said the environment was more suitable to the Christian schools. Though some still compete in ACTF, the CUTF has become a popular venue for Christian universities in the region, including McMurry University, Abilene Christian University and Lubbock Christian University.

This year’s festival experienced calendaring challenges, with spring break and a late Easter making scheduling difficult. Consequently, only three schools are participating, but Runnels still feels the festival is worth audiences’ time.

“These are three very different shows… I’m not sure we could have gotten any more different shows that these,” Runnels said with a laugh. “You have some very good, serious drama and then some great comedy in different styles. Audiences will really enjoy all these shows.”

The lineup is as follows:

  • The Young Man from Atlanta, performed on Monday, March 7, at 8 p.m. by the Wayland theatre group. A drama by Horton Foote, the play deals with a Texas family coping with the loss of their only son. Runnels directs; the play features WBU theatre students Mary Feril, Lisa Angel, Tim Fisher, Chris Bevis and Grant Jasper; alum Cory Norman; faculty member Dr. David Howle; Plainview teacher Eva Balenton and music student Alpha Jennings.
  • Morning’s at Seven, performed on Tuesday, March 8 at 2 p.m. by Howard Payne. A comedy by Paul Osborne, the play deals with the four Gibb sisters, who know each other’s life details intimately. Comic moments abound when sister Ida’s son, Homer, becomes engaged to their spinster friend Myrtle. Direction is by Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, HPU theatre director.
  • The Importance of Being Ernest, performed on Tuesday, March 8 at 8 p.m. by Lubbock Christian. A classic comedy by Oscar Wilde, the play follows Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrief, two young men who create imaginary friends to provide excuses for getaways, often with humorous and potentially threatening outcomes. Direction is by Dr. Laurie Doyle, theatre faculty member at LCU.

The shows will be performed in the Harral Studio Theatre on the Wayland campus. Tickets for the performances are $6 for adults and $4 for students. Reservations can be made in advance by calling the box office at 291-1087.