WBU Theatre presents "Freud's Last Session"

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University will present Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain March 31-April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box studio theater in Wayland’s Harral Memorial Auditorium.

The show is a return to the stage for Dr. Marti Runnels, Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Wayland, who will portray Dr. Sigmund Freud as he is visited by C.S. Lewis, played by WBU alum Cory Norman. Charles Pepiton, also a Wayland graduate, is directing the play.

Freud’s Last Session is a two-man play that Bloomberg News has called “Delightful! A brainy fencing match of Olympic caliber.” It centers on Freud, who invited the young, rising Oxford Don C.S. Lewis to his home in London. On the day that England enters World War II, Freud and Lewis clash about love, sex, the existence of God, and the meaning of life.

“I think if people allow themselves they will find themselves at one point or another saying, ‘I have thought that. I’ve had that exact same thought,’” Runnels said. “It gets down there and wades in the water of doubt, among other things. What do you do with these questions that are unresolved?”

Runnels is no stranger to C.S. Lewis on the stage, having played Lewis in productions of Shadowlands. This time, however, he will tackle the portrayal of Freud while Norman takes the roll of a younger Lewis.

“Cory was in one of those iterations of Shadowlands,” Runnels said. “So it’s his turn to play Lewis.”

Norman actually introduced Runnels to the show. He did the show while working at Theatre 3 in Dallas.

“It was always one of my favorite shows that we did in Dallas,” said Norman, who is currently the graduate recruitment and admissions coordinator for Texas Tech University’s School of Theatre and Dance. “I always thought it would be a good show for this audience at Wayland.”

Norman recommended to show the Runnels over lunch after church one Sunday. Runnels, who was unfamiliar with it, ordered the script and fell in love with the play.

“I loved the script, loved the challenge of the ideas in the script,” he said.

Runnels said he also loves the challenge of playing an aging Austrian neurologist, the father of psychoanalysis, having never been cast as a character this old or one with an Austrian accent. And while the play tackles tough questions and the conflict between two powerhouse thinkers who come from completely different world views, it is not without its lighter side.

“It has its funny moments,” Norman said. “There are big ideas thrown out, but at the same time it is not hard to follow. I think what makes it engaging to the audience is that everyone is going to feel a draw to one or the other of the characters at some point in the show.”

Ticket cost $8 and can be purchased by logging onto www.wbu.edu and clicking on the “Buy Now” link.