WBU theatre performs ‘Voice of the Prairie’

October 3, 2013

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University’s theatre department will return to simpler times as they perform “Voice of the Prairie” Oct. 10-12. The show is set for 7:30 each evening in the Black Box studio theatre in the Harral Art Complex. Cost is $8 and tickets are available on the Wayland homepage at www.wbu.edu. Click on the “buy tickets now” link at the bottom of the page.

“Voice of the Prairie” tells the story of a man who becomes a radio sensation when he is discovered telling stories at the local feed store. His stories, however, are memories of his time as a young boy when he and “Frankie the blind girl” ran away from home. They shared numerous adventures until they were finally caught and separated by someone seeking the reward for finding the girl.

“He was never the same after they split up,” explains director Marti Runnels, Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Wayland. “They are both kids, 10, 11, 12 … it doesn’t say in the script how old they were, but they were both really young. You can have some kind of notion of what it would be like to be separated from all family and then find somebody. The bond of those two kids … it was boyfriend/girlfriend, it was mother/father, it was brother/sister, they were everything to each other.”

As the man travels with the radio show, eventually Frances, Frankie the blind girl, hears the stories and realizes who he is. Runnels said she eventually makes her way back to see him, “and the play gets interesting from there.”

While the drama of the situation is the main issue in the play, Runnels said it also addresses issues such as radio as an emerging technology. The play is set in 1923 with the stories taking place in 1895. Runnels said the play also looks at relationships and the contract between urban and rural life.

The main characters of David Quinn and Frances Reed will be played by Cameron Conner and Elizabeth Miller Williams. Coleman Scroggins will portray Davey, the young David Quinn and Frankie is played by Ashlee Taylor. Zachary Fisher, Joshua Walters, Ryan Hernandez, and Kierra Proctor complete the cast, with each playing several roles.
Runnels said the script points out that the play was originally performed by three actors, but also works well with six.

“So I have eight,” he said. “What I think you gain with more people is more emotional resonance with the audience.”

Runnels said he thought about using only three actors, but he didn’t want the audience to get caught up in the actors’ character changes and miss the opportunity to connect with the characters in the play.