Center for Ethics and Leadership

Monday, March 2, 2009

Alvernia Theater Stretches Again

The weekends of March 12 and 19 mark the Alvernia Theater troupe's spring play. It is another benchmark in this program's continuing development and ranks with the group's successful staging of Romeo and Juliet last year. This year's play is called Tales of Shoogilly. Written by David Blakely, it has won acclaim in reader's theater.

It has never before been staged.

Nathan Thomas and his merry band of Alvernia student actors are to be congratulated, as is set designer Melissa Guyer.

But enough about them -- the play. It covers three periods in the lives of several characters who grow up in Shoogilly, Texas. We go through their teen years, their lives after World War II, and their later years in 1967. The courses their lives take are intriguing enough, but Blakely uses their experiences to ask many questions about belief both religious and secular. A separate issue is religious practice. Characters develop and change; some hold on to the same ideas their entire lives.

As a writer, Blakely moves the plot along quickly and constructs good dialogue. More interesting is his shuffling of the actors. Thus actors in a role in the first act may play another character in either act two or three, or might even play one character in her youth and but not as an adult. The rotation of roles is Blakely's further observation on how we grow and change along with our beliefs.

Nathan Thomas has been very direct about aligning Alvernia theater with the school's mission. Last year he produced The Last Days of Judas Iscariot; the year before a play by an Iraqi woman entitled Nine Parts of Desire. His purpose was to get us to think about the Middle East and our role there.

I hope all Alvernians make it a point to see Tales of Shoogilly. Mr. Blakely will be at the March 12 world premiere of his play.

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