Wayland theatre season to feature plenty of craziness

 PLAINVIEW – Feeling a bit crazy these days? The season theatre lineup at Wayland Baptist University will feel right at home.

According to Dr. Marti Runnels, director of theatre and professor of theatre at Wayland, crazy is the prevailing theme for the annual Shorts IX: Depends on You production that kicks off the season, then the following plays just happened to deal with the theme in some manner.

An evening of short vignette plays, Shorts returns for the ninth year with lots of comedic takes on the theme of being crazy. A favorite of many, the evening involves many Wayland students, with theatre majors directing scenes and students performing in every role and technical position.

“There are scenes about people going to the psychiatrist and the like,” Runnels said. “Our new musical theatre professor, Jeff Kensmoe, is going to be directing some musical theatre numbers between the shorts.”

Shorts will run Sept. 23, 24, 29, 30 and Oct. 1, with show time at 8 p.m. in Harral Studio Theatre on the Wayland campus.

For the second fall production, Runnels has chosen Earth and Sky, a poetic thriller by Douglas Post reminiscent of film classics like The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Winner of the L. Arnold Weissberger Playwriting Competition, Earth and Sky involves a would-be poet and part-time Chicago librarian named Sara McKeon, who sets about to investigate the murder of her beloved, David Ames, when she finds no other suitable answers to the crime.

The New York Post called the play “thoroughly engrossing, holding you fast for about 100 intermissionless minutes…a genuine cop thriller, with devious plot turns, tough, corner-of-the-mouth, Chandler/Hammett-style dialogue, and enough surprises to startle rabbits out of holes let alone hats."

Runnels will be directing Earth and Sky, which runs Nov. 11, 12, 17, 18, and 19 at 8 p.m.

The opening play for the spring semester will be A View from Here, a comedy by Margaret Dulaney and the homecoming production this year. Running Feb. 23, 24, 25 and March 3 and 4, 2006, the show coincides with Wayland homecoming, which is moving to the February weekend.

Senior theatre major Lisa Angel will direct the play as her senior practicum, and the show will be Wayland’s entry to the Christian University Theatre Festival, being held here in Plainview in early March 2006.

Runnels said the show is about a woman with agoraphobia, the fear of public places.

“It’s kind of in the spirit of The Foreigner and Daddy’s Dyin,’ Who’s Got the Will?,” Runnels said. “There’s a lot of back woods humor to it. Despite its silliness, though, it has a romance and some warm, touching moments as well.”

The final play of the season, a dinner theatre catered by Carino’s, will be The Nerd. A comedy by Larry Shue (who also authored The Foreigner), The Nerd had Runnels rolling.

“It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read,” he said. “I laughed out loud all the way through it.”

The plot involves a Vietnam soldier whose life is saved by a man he never met, who then writes the man to promise to repay the favor. He never hears from the man until his 34th birthday, when he arrives on the doorstep.

“It turns out the guy is a complete nerd and he just drives this guy crazy,” Runnels said, noting there is a surprise ending to the play.

The Nerd runs April 20, 21, and 22 at 8 p.m., with dinner served at 7 p.m.

Season tickets for Wayland theatre are $40 per person, which includes each show and the full dinner theatre. Tickets can be purchased through the first production and may be obtained by calling the Box Office at 291-1087.