Sidebar: Christian University Theatre Festival to Feature Four Unique Productions

PLAINVIEW – For the second straight year, Wayland Baptist University’s theatre department will host the annual Christian University Theatre Festival, with this year’s event promising some humorous and intriguing pieces.

According to Dr. Marti Runnels, director of theatre at Wayland, the festival brings in regional Christian universities to display their stage talents and enjoy some positive feedback from peers and theatre experts.

Besides Wayland, Hardin-Simmons University, Howard Payne University and Lubbock Christian University are also participating in the festival, which runs March 6-8 in the Harral Studio Theatre.

After each performance, Runnels said a respondent gives feedback to the students and audience members and they discuss the production and the piece itself. Dr. Don Sandley, director of theatre at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., is the visiting respondent for this year’s festival.

“There’s not really a first, second, third place per se,” Runnels explained. “We have given recognition for acting and technical awards in the past, though. We like to focus on the students and their achievements.

The whole experience is beneficial to both Wayland students and their visiting peers, Runnels said, because of the feedback.

“It gives people who share our worldview a chance to spotlight our work in one place, meet others with similar interests and have good fellowship,” Runnels said. “Also, from an accreditation standpoint, it’s a peer review aspect, getting feedback from other schools on what we’re doing well.

The event is not without its challenges, Runnels points out. With four shows going up and down in a three-day period, logistics are sometimes difficult to work out.

“But it’s also what makes it fun, too. It’s crazy chaos for a while, then you get to kick back and have fun,” he said.

The festival kicks off with Wayland’s students reprising the spring show The View From Here on Monday, March 6 at 8 p.m., directed by senior theatre major Lisa Angel. A comedy by Margaret Dulaney, the play explores a woman with agoraphobia and her life challenges.

On Tuesday, March 7, at 1 p.m., Howard Payne takes the stage with Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly, Last Summer.  A drama, the play concerns a wealthy woman’s niece who has been institutionalized after a traumatic summer in Europe where her cousin has been murdered. The aunt seeks the help of a neurosurgeon to cure the young woman.

On Tuesday evening at 8 p.m., Hardin-Simmons will present the Tennessee Williams drama The Glass Menagerie. The play involves the Wingfield family, who are continuously escaping from their present reality into their past, trying to accept both.

On Wednesday, March 8, at 1 p.m., Lubbock Christian will bring Edith Stein to the Wayland stage. Written by Arthur Giron, the play involves the life of a German-Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun. She was shunned by her family but was captured along with other Jews and died in 1942 in Auschwitz. Stein was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1998 as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

The festival is open to the public, with audiences welcome to stay for Sandley’s comments and discussion about the plays. A festival pass admitting patrons to all four shows is $10 per person, with individual show admission at $4. Reservations are not required but can be made through the box office at 291-1087.