Student directors showcase Tennessee Williams One-Acts

Thursday January 17, 2019

twilliamsThe Mercyhurst Theatre Program showcases the talents of its student directors when Six by Tenn: The One-Acts of Tennessee Williams comes to Taylor Little Theatre, Feb. 7-10. Presented in an intimate setting, the festival offers a fascinating perspective on what made Williams one of the greatest writers of all time.

This Property is Condemned, directed by Alexis Webb, concerns Willie, a 13-year-old girl from Mississippi, who is world-weary before her time. She dropped out of school years ago, her family died and now she lives alone in their condemned boarding house. One day as she walks on the railroad tracks, she meets 16-year-old Tom.

I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow, directed by Monica Tinsley, dramatizes the lives of “One” and “Two,” the only friends of one-another, who carry out the same evening ritual of playing cards and watching the news on TV in an effort to avoid any real confrontation. However, One's physical deterioration and approaching death force her to prepare for the inevitable.

The Case of the Crushed Petunias, directed by Jacob Tretinik, tells the story of Miss Dorothy Simple, proprietor of the Simple Notions Shop in Primanproper, Massachusetts, who has barricaded her house and heart behind a double row of petunias.

Hello from Bertha, directed by Abby Whitman, focuses on Bertha, a prostitute on the verge of being evicted from a low-class bordello. In a series of delusions, she revisits her past loves while slipping toward disease and death.

Lord Byron’s Love Letter, directed by Tessa Sayre, is about an old woman and a spinster living in a dilapidated house who claim to possess a love letter from Lord Byron.

Auto-da-Fé, directed by Elizabeth Shewan, focuses on Eloi, a young, sexually repressed postal worker who resides in New Orleans with his mother, a practical woman who runs a boarding house. Though he struggles for rationality, Eloi sees the city as an intolerable hotbed of depravity, and he longs for the purification of fire.

The student directors, under the supervision of Dr. Brett D. Johnson, have been responsible for every step of the directorial process, from analyzing the text to casting and rehearsing the show to incorporating the technical elements. “The one-act festival is a sort of capstone project for our theatre minors,” Johnson says, “because it requires them to draw upon their knowledge of acting, directing, script analysis, theatre history, dramatic literature and technical theatre.”

The festival cast includes 18 Mercyhurst students: Maria Dombrowski (Willie, This Property is Condemned), Chance Wandler (Tom, This Property is Condemned), Grace Sloop (One, I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow), John Hetrick (Two, I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow), Jenna Rosciszewski (Dorothy Simple, The Case of the Crushed Petunias), Carlena Bressanelli (Police Officer, The Case of the Crushed Petunias), Jon Reddinger (Young Man, The Case of the Crushed Petunias), Amelia Miguez (Mrs. Dull, The Case of the Crushed Petunias), Abby Larimore (Bertha, Hello from Bertha), Bethany Sulecki (Goldie, Hello from Bertha), Rachele Heasley (Lena, Hello from Bertha), Darby Shafron (Girl, Hello from Bertha), Ella Santillano (The Spinster, Lord Byron’s Love Letter), Emma Kleinmann (The Old Woman, Lord Byron’s Love Letter), Nina Hollopeter (The Matron, Lord Byron’s Love Letter), Justice Alleruzzo (The Husband, Lord Byron’s Love Letter), Alexandra Newton (Mme. Duvenet, Auto-da-Fé) and Cameron Carroll (Eloi, Auto-da-Fé).

The creative team consists of Madeleine Steineck (lighting designer), Rebecca Holt (production stage manager) and Allison Christopher (assistant stage manager).

The six plays will be performed in repertory, with This Property is Condemned, I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow and The Case of the Crushed Petunias being presented on Thursday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m., and Hello from Bertha, Lord Byron’s Love Letter and Auto-da-Fé on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m.

Single tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and non-Mercyhurst students and $5 for Mercyhurst students with their I.D. All performances are general admission, with doors opening 30 minutes prior to curtain. 

Patrons can reserve their tickets online at miac.mercyhurst.edu, by phone at 814-824-3000 or at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center box office. Tickets will also be on sale at the theatre beginning one hour before curtain.

For more information, visit miac.mercyhurst.edu.