Theatre department to put on “Flyin’ West”

The opening night for Flyin' West will be Thursday Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. It will be performed in the Robinson Theatre. (Photo courtesy of School of the Arts)

Thursday, Oct. 4, marks the opening date of the Theatre Department’s production of Pearl Cleage’s 1995 play “Flyin’ West.”  There are six scheduled show times, one every day at 7:30 p.m. from Oct. 4 to Oct. 9.  All shows are to take place in the Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center for the Arts. General admission tickets will be sold for $15, however students, faculty, staff and as well as senior citizens can purchase tickets for only $10.

“Flyin’ West” is a melodrama that takes place in Kansas during the year 1898 and centers around a group of homesteaders that have left the South for a new kind of freedom. The play explores the homesteaders’ interactions with their new world and their ultimate strength and resilience to hardship associated with racism and their new environments.

The play’s director, professor of African American Theatre and Performance, Joy Vandervort-Cobb, said, “I am hoping that the oral tradition of storytelling for the first generation out of slavery is apparent; that these women have bonded together to beat the odds and how, with family [however loosely it is defined], you can accomplish things you didn’t know were possible.”

The theatre department has been in the process of designing the show since April 2012. Auditions were held over the course of two days once students arrived earlier this semester, and rehearsals began in the second week of classes.

Students participated in all aspects of the production of “Flyin’ West,” from stage design to stage management to the actual performance. Seniors Alanda Parker, Rashida Beach and Greg Mangieri star onstage. Austin Cantrell and Celeste Riddle, both theatre majors served as the costume and scenic designers and worked under the supervision of faculty mentors Janine McCabe, Charlie Calvert and Paul Collins.  The stage managerial staff consists of Ashley Zoglman, a double majoring in Theatre and English, and her two assistants Lizzie Watson and Shelby North.

Vandervort-Cobb said, “Doing a period piece has all sorts of issues associated with it in terms of movement and research and presentation, and that challenge is exciting for an actor.  Add to that the behavior of those in the 1800s versus this decade, and there are a number of things the actor must wrestle with to be successful. Nice Challenge.”

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