University Theatre Program To Stage Undergraduates’ Original Works - Guest blog by Kevin Bush

Three plays written and directed by university theatre majors will be premiered February 15-26, 2012 when the University of SC Department of Theatre and Dance presents a festival of Original Works.

The History of Elizabeth I, written by senior Jeffrey Earl in the heightened language style of Shakespeare, will be performed February 15-19 at Benson Theatre, located at the corner of Pickens and Whaley Streets. Show times are 8pm each evening.  Admission is $5.  Tickets are available only at the door.

Tomfoolery, a commedia dell'Arte play by senior Brittany Price Anderson, and Good Mourning, a dark story of grieving by junior Jake Mesches, will be performed together February 23-26 at the Lab Theatre, 1400 Wheat St.  Show times are 8pm each evening.  Ticket cost to see both shows is $5; tickets are available only at the door.



The History of Queen Elizabeth I Jeffrey Earl describes The History of Queen Elizabeth I as a "continuation of Shakespeare's "history" plays," written in the manner of Elizabethan theatre.  The story dramatizes the attempt of Mary, Queen of Scots to seize the throne from Elizabeth I.

Earl notes that while the script is in the style of Shakespeare, it still contains 21st century references.  “I hope to show the importance of heightened language and verse, even when written by contemporary authors," he says.

Earl is wearing other hats in addition to writing and directing.  He composed transition and underscored music for the play, and, with the guidance of Professor Lisa Martin-Stuart, is also designing costumes for the production.  He is designing the set, lighting and sound, as well.

Actors in the production are: Kayla Cahill, Danielle Peterson, Rocco Thompson, Liam MacDougall, Dillon Ingram, Esteban Nevarez, Hunter Bolton, Ait Fetterolf, Adam Bintz, Steven Canada, Andrea Wurzburger and Rachel Player.  Mallory Shirley will stage manage, with assistance from John Floyd.  Earl received additional faculty support from Victor Holtcamp, assistant professor of theatre, and Nina Levine, associate professor of English.

Tomfoolery Conceived and performed in the style of commedia dell’Arte, the traditional Italian form of improvisational theatre, Tomfoolery is described by its creator and director Brittany Price Anderson as a “zany, naughty, slapstick fairy tale.”

Dating from the 16th century, commedia dell’Arte is a theatre form in which stock characters, such as two lovers, a merchant and servants, find themselves trying to make sense of often humorous scenarios filled with mix-ups, mayhem and monkey-business.  Each evening, a cast of six will take on the classic commedia roles in traditional masks, which they have created themselves.

Created as part of her senior thesis project for the SC Honors College, with the guidance of theatre professor Jim O’Connor and associate professor Sarah Barker, Anderson says her goal with the project is enable her cast of actors to “create a story in which every person in the cast has an equal share.”

“Our jumping off point is a ‘dirty fairy tale” set in a world of where royalty and magic co-exist, so the only restrictions we have are our imaginations,” she says.

Actors in the production are:  Tyler Carolan, Sirena Dibb, Vincent King, Katie McCuen, Emily Olyarchuk and Finn Smith.  Michelle Ouhl will serve as stage manager for the production.

Good Mourning Grieving over a loved one is no less than torture in Jake Mesches’ play, Good Mourning.

The dark one-act begins with a recent widower being held captive by a masked man who guides him through the psychological horrors of the grieving process.  As his maltreatment continues, the widower finds he has the choice of either giving in to his captor’s abuse or fight to the final stage of grief: acceptance.

Mesches says his goal of the piece is no less than what he believes theatre is designed to do – to confront his audience with a reality they may not be aware of.  “Remarkably, human beings have an innate defense again the impending fact of death,” he explains.  “It is not until we experience the most devastating tragedies of out lives that we are forced to remove ourselves from the shroud of ignorance and accept the finality of death as universal.  I would like to challenge the audience to allow themselves an hour to stop denying death.”

Six actors will bring Mesches’ work to life on stage, including himself, William Vaughn, Caroline Wilson, Elizabeth Turner, Cayla Fralick and Katie Cole.  Artistic staff for the production includes Neal Tucker (assistant director), Becky Doran (stage manager) and Curtis Smoak (lighting design).

For more information on Original Works, or any of the productions of the University of SC Lab Theatre or Department of Theatre and Dance, contact Kevin Bush by phone at (803) 777-9353 or by email at