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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sophanes Presents 'A Gathering of Players' April 28-May 8

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University students seize control of the stage for the upcoming production A Gathering of Players. “We feel that a vital part of the training we offer our students must be through experiential learning,” says Dr. T. Paul Pfeiffer, director of SU Theatre. “To that end, we strive to provide our students with as many opportunities to ‘test their wings’ as we can before we send them out into the professional world.” Performances are Thursday-Sunday, April 28-May 1, and May 5-8. Directed by communication and theatre art majors Melissa Laur and Toph Wallace, the production consists of two one-act plays, produced by Sophanes, SU’s student theatre club. "Am I Blue?," directed by Laur, is the first play penned by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Beth Henley, famous for her dramatic comedies including Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest. Am I Blue? chronicles a night in the lives of a college freshman, John Polk Richards, and a 16 year-old girl, Ashbe, who meet in a New Orleans bar. “After much research, I came across 'Am I Blue?,'” says Laur. “The title captured my attention immediately and from there I fell in love with the show. Ashbe’s character spoke to me, and reading it for the first time, I knew I wanted to direct this particular play.” The cast includes Karla Elliott as Ashbe Williams, Matt Sheils as John Polk, Kat Hess as Hilda and Katie Owens as Clareece. "Time Flies," directed by Wallace, is written by David Ives (Mere Mortals, Lives of the Saints). The play is infused with puns and word-play, a unique style that Art Scene Magazine hails as “wacky and wild.” Another night-in-the-life tale, this play follows two young mayflies who realize that they have only one day to live. The comedy is compounded by a play-by-play commentary from a David Attenborough character. Wallace first read the script at a friend’s suggestion and found the carpe diem theme intriguing. “I want my audiences to view 'Time Flies' and realize that they should enjoy life while they’ve got it,” he says. The cast includes Jessica Vitrano and Brian Kuhn as the two mayflies and Steve Sharkey as Sir Richard Attenborough. Both Wallace and Laur are appreciative of their time at SU and have learned many skills which they hope to use professionally. Laur attributes her greatest learning experience to a particular course. “I took the directing class here, taught by Robert Smith,” she says. “I learned an enormous amount through my experience with [Smith’s class] and I knew then that I wanted to continue my learning in the directing field.” Wallace used his experience at SU to become well versed in multiple aspects of theatre. “The theatre program has allowed me to learn a lot about the process that it takes to both act and direct in a play,” he says. “Salisbury University offers some wonderful theatre courses that have given me a well-rounded understanding of the world and the realm of theatre.” Even as a purely student-run production, Laur, Wallace and the rest of Sophanes have had some faculty guidance. Pfeiffer likens the experience to parenting in learning to let the students go and learn on their own. “As a part of our theatre season, we hold this work up to our own standards, with the understanding that this is a new experience for nearly all of them,” he says. “I think the faculty would all agree that this is a most valuable component in the educational experience we strive to offer. We are all enjoying the process and watching the growth. These productions can be immensely rewarding.” Costume design for both plays is by Derek Lingle, with set design by Frank Miller. Lighting design is by Karen Muller, and sound design is by Karen Owens. Stephen Sharkey is master carpenter and Heather Hall is properties mistress. Eric Gemmer, along with Owens, is stage manager. Steve Drapalski is production manager. Sponsored by the Bobbi Biron Theatre Program, admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors Thursdays and $12 for adults, $10 for seniors on Fridays and weekends. Curtain times are 8 p.m. for Thursday-Saturday performances and 2 p.m. for Sunday performances. SU ID card holders are admitted free. For reservations call the Box Office at 410-543-6228 or for more information visit the SU web site at www.salisbury.edu.

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