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Summer Repertory Offers Two Plays

By Emilie Hornak/Staff Writer
The Huntsville Item

Both an original and an established production will grace the Showcase Theatre at Sam Houston State University's University Theatre this week to close out the Summer Repertory program.

"Rich, Red Clay", an original play written by Dave Ervin, a play write and SHSU theater student, will run Aug. 8-9 at 8 p.m. in the Showcase Theatre.

The play delves into the relationship between a father and son amongst the issue of conflicting personalities.

"The play deals with issues like what is a real man, how can a son earn a father's love and how hard it is to tell your parents I love you," Ervin said.

The storyline follows the evolution of the relationship between father Red, played by SHSU theater student Connor Bartley, and son Clay, played by SHSU theater student Joel McDonald, as turmoil is created by the developing romance between Red and his girlfriend Lisa, played by Danniell Foy, who is Clays's former teacher.

"They didn't have the best relationship to begin with, but now that his father is dating his former teacher, who is also younger that his father, it makes the relationship even more awkward," said Patrick Pearson, "Rich, Red Clay" director and SHSU theater staff member.

Throughout the production, the pair are working through the conflict in their relationship to find a way to be civil to each other while using big brother Rich, played by Nick Vega, as a mediator.

In the end Red and Clay realize it is ok to agree to disagree, Pearson said.

"They learn to deal with each other and the differences they have," McDonald said. "They're coming of age in their relationship."

Walking away from the production, Ervin said he hopes audiences will see the importance of expressing feelings of love to family members.

"I think a lot of people will walk away with the understanding of how important it is to express love to their family," he said.

Pearson said people will find a piece of themselves in one or more of the characters and relating to the conflict between the pair.

"Anyone can look at a character and say 'I have been there' or 'I understand what they are going through'," he said. "It will just make people realize the complexity of the relationship between a parent and child.

Vega said people will realize they should not always wait for a second chance.

Performed in a minimalist manner as part of the Summer Repertory program in the theater department, Pearson said "Rich, Red Clay" has grown as a result because more emphasis was put on the development of the characters and the story.

"It's been the most incredible thing to start a script from scratch and see the creative process work through the problems and create a great work," Ervin said.

The focus of the production was not on sets and costumes for the production, it was on script and character development, Pearson said.

"It (the script) has grown tremendously since we started," he said. "It evolves everyday as we work and discuss the characters and how they interact with one another.'

Sitting as a group, the cast, director and play write discussed what order the scenes should follow, what lines in the dialog should be removed and other aspects of the production, McDonald said.

"Working on an unpublished script gave us more freedom," Bartley said. "It was less structured which meant we could do more with it."

Having Ervin on the set during each practice allowed the cast to take the script to the next level, said Vega.

"Having the play write at practice was really important because it allowed the script to grow with the development of the characters," he said. "We were able to get more into the characters and allow them to become us."

Ervin agreed the cast and play write combination allowed the play to take on a new mood.

"The cast really helped find the comedy in the characters through some improv," he said. "It started out a little melodramatic, but they have created characters that lighten up the script and make it a little less heavy handed."

Also working on the production is stage manager Samantha Sutton.

Another cast will present Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things", a loose adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion," in the Showcase Theatre Today and Tuesday at 8 p.m.

"It looks at creating a person as a piece of art," said Jim Miller, chair of the department of theater. "It shows what an artist does with another person."

Kevin Crouch, Jennifer Davies, Cheryl Jones and Brian Upchurch make up the cast of the production, which is geared toward a younger crowd.

Crys McDonald, production director, is leading the cast through the script, which Miller said the group was lucky to work with.

"This play has had successful runs in London and New York, and it's rights are restricted," he said. "So, for them to work with this script is special."

Niki Thomas is the stage manager.

- END -

SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Aug. 5, 2002
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