Senior Theatre Major takes the Directing Chair for Next Production

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University senior Lisa Angel is no stranger to the Wayland theatre stage. She’s acted in several plays and directed a few short pieces in the annual Shorts production. But her next assignment will test her mettle in a new way.

Angel, a theatre major from Wylie, will be in the director’s seat for the upcoming production of The View From Here, a comedy by Margaret Dulaney, in fulfillment of her senior theatre practicum. The play takes the Harral Studio Theatre stage on Feb. 23 and 25 and March 3 and 4, with shows at 8 p.m. each night and a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 25.

The show involves a woman suffering from agoraphobia – the fear of leaving her safe haven of home – who is faced with a dilemma. Though the situations are funny and audiences will enjoy the humor, WBU theatre director Marti Runnels said the play has some poignant moments.

“Like all true comedy, it’s social commentary,” said Runnels, who is acting in a supervisory role for the production while Angel directs. “It always has about it the idea that society can improve itself. You see at the end that there are bridges we can build to each other and don’t have to live in isolation.”

Though the play is a comedy, Angel’s world has been all business the last few months as she’s immersed herself in the project. But the play itself intrigues her and has been fun to dive into.

“Being from a psychological background (she’s minoring in psychology and English), I’ve always been interested in abnormal psychology, and this definitely explores that,” Angel said. “But it also provides psychological insight on all the characters. These are serious issues but it presents them in a humorous way.”

She’s finding the view from the director’s seat to be a very different one, especially in terms of a full-length play and with the comedic tone.

“With serious drama, it’s OK to have moments with stillness and silence on stage, but in comedy, you have to constantly be moving and thinking about the audience and their participation in the play,” she said.

Angel has dealt with her share of challenges during the process, which are common for practicum participants. Cast conflicts meant recasting some roles, and she’s had to juggle the directorial responsibilities around regular student issues including other classes, homework and tests.

“The sheer experience of it has been the biggest lesson for me,” she said. “I can say that I know how to put together a rehearsal schedule and make a piece performable on a stage. Also, I know what to look for in auditions and am learning how to communicate with actors.”

All those experiences are what Runnels said makes the practicum such a valuable tool for theatre majors, especially those who intend to teach or enter the field professionally some day. He tries to remain hands-off during the process, stepping in only in an advisory role and sometimes only if the student director asks.

Angel said she’s found the whole process enjoyable and hopes to pursue directorial work in the future. She plans to graduate in April 2006 and is considering graduate school in the field as well.

The cast of The View From Here includes newcomer Jessie Else of Idaho in the lead role of “Fern.” Theatre veteran Mary Feril, a senior from Grand Prairie who has appeared in several productions at Wayland, plays Fern’s younger sister “Mable.” Grant Jasper, a sophomore theatre major, plays Fern’s neighbor “Arnold,” and Plainview Christian Academy senior Rachel Morgan plays “Carla,” another neighbor.

Tickets to the production are $8 for adults, $4 for students and Wayland alums. Reservations may be made by calling the WBU box office at 291-1087.