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Theatre Wesleyan opens the season with premiere of original productions

Mercedes Kuhn, Ian Kooistra and Ethan Brandt act in The Death of Seneca by Jonathan Burt.
Photo Credit: Chase Di Iulio & Pella Le Fever/Theatre Wesleyan

Theatre Wesleyan’s Playmarket: Premiere Productions of Original Plays will be showing at Thad Smotherman Theatre from Sept. 28 to Oct 1.  

This showcase of original works features four plays written by Texas Wesleyan alumni and directed by Connie Whitt-Lambert, a professor of theatre and the director of the playwrighting program. 

“Dime Store Dinos” 

“Dime Store Dinos” by 2021 alumna Lori Coughlin is the first production that is presented. This 12-minute children’s play takes place in a parking lot outside of Five and Dime. The experience of following five plastic dinosaurs attempting to make it back to their owner is familiar and reminds one of the movies they watched as a child.  

Considering the nature of the following plays, “Dime Store Dinos” is an interesting choice for an opener. The use of screens and voice-overs to set the scene helps the audience follow along. Though this production is entertaining, it does not quite compare to those that follow.  

“The Ramifications of a Changed Man”

The Ramifications of a Changed Man is acted out by Peri Zachmeyer and Chase di Iulio.
Photo Credit: Chase Di Iulio & Pella Le Fever/Theatre Wesleyan

The next play in the lineup is “The Ramifications of a Changed Man” by 2019 alumna Alexandra Flurry-Powell. No one would expect what is to come in this 47-minute production set in the New Mexico desert in the 1800s.  

Chase di Iulio and Peri Zachmeyer take on the roles of Braun and Christina. Chritina, played by Zachmeyer, is a

determined and disturbed woman battling with the turmoil of her painful rejection. Di Iulio’s Braun is a composed and witty man, the epitome of a southern gentleman. This juxtaposed with the hurt and frustration of Christina’s character brings out of him his own difficult past.  

The two characters debate the value of life and death in a place that will hold painful but precious memories for them both. With an almost bare stage it takes great storytelling to bring these shows to life. The writing is brilliantly done and well executed from the acting to the props and stage direction.  

“Somewhere Between the Floors” 

Nicholas Keel and Nicole Davis play Larry and Betsy in Somewhere Between Floors.
Photo Credit: Chase Di Iulio & Pella Le Fever/Theatre Wesleyan

After a 15-minute intermission, 2023 alumna Lily Seavy’s “Somewhere Between the Floors” is next to show. A great story told in just 11 minutes, the tale of two ex-fiancés forced to confront their past engagement makes one question whether love truly is enough. Nicole Davis, playing Betsy, commands the stage from the moment she comes out to the moment she leaves. Not a beat is missed between her, and Nicholas Keel who plays Larry.  

“The Death of Seneca” 

The last production to showcase is “The Death of Seneca” written by 2023 alumnus Jonathan Burt. This show follows the hilariously re-imagined story of the death of Roman philosopher/playwright Seneca ordered by Emperor Nero.  

The show runs for 45 minutes with a cast of 7 actors who all bring life and energy to the production. With characters like Varus Silius and Varus Sirius, Burt’s writing is clever and rich in humor. Each character is well-written and played with just as much excellence. Mercedes Kuhn, Ethan Brandt, Abigale Hunt, Henry-Bates-Valentine, Hayden Kirkbride, Ian Kooistra and Chase di Iulio can all be proud of their performances. A wonderful end to the showcase, this whacky production is sure to make one laugh.  

The seating for Playmarket is limited, be sure to check out the box office for tickets and upcoming shows.  

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Chiara Watson
Chiara Watson, Editor-in-Chief
Chiara Watson is an international student at Texas Wesleyan University, born and raised in Johannesburg South Africa. As Editor-in-Chief for the Rambler Media Group, she loves the idea of connecting with the students, parents, faculty and staff at Wesleyan through her writing. Chiara loves a good story, whether it comes in the form of a book, film, poem, or song, and is excited to share the stories closest to the hearts and minds of the Texas Wesleyan community.

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