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Students go western in ‘Abundance’


Dylan StreTchbery, left, who plays Jack Fland, fights with Casey Toney, who plays Will Curtis, during a rehearsal of the play Abundance.

Student actors are opening a window to the past with “Abundance,” a western play opening next weekend.

“Abundance” is based on a story by Beth Henley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and premieres at 8 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Eva Maria Saint Theatre inside the Wolfe Center. Tickets are $9 for students and $12 for non-students.

The play centers around two women in the pursuit of love, fortune and the dangers they encounter out west, said Sara Chambers, Director and University Lecturer.

Those who arrive early have the chance to sit in the “fright zone,” the first row that’s just 10 feet away from the performers, she said.

“Abundance” has a diverse set of scenes, some of which involve intense action, so sitting closer helps pull the audience into the story, Chambers said.

“Our culture thrives on fast-paced action, and this play has that,” said Dylan Stretchbery, University senior and actor in the play. “It’s written like a movie but it has a span of 25 years.”

Action plays like this can take several months of work and rehearsal to put together, Chambers said.

Preparation for the play began in late October, when the story and cast was chosen. The goal was to hit the ground running when practices started in January, Chambers said.

The cast practices more than 20 hours per week, making the commitment similar in length to a part-time job, Chambers said.

Between the five main cast members and those working on props, costumes and choreography, there are more than 40 students involved in the play.

“There’s a lot of invisible work that goes into production,” Chambers said. “I’m proud that we have such a large group of students involved.”

Some students get involved by approaching the director, while others get involved through their theatre classes.

For example, The Theatre Experience, a class that teaches humanistic values in theatre, gives its students the chance to join a play’s production team, according to the course description.

“Classes like [The Theater Experience] help get your foot in the door of the production crew,” Chambers said.

The Department of Theatre and Film hopes students will promote the play through social networking and posters.

They also send mass emails about upcoming productions in hopes of creating a following for their plays, Chambers said.

The actors want their fellow students to take advantage of the play by turning it into a learning experience.

“[The west] is part of our history,” said Eli Brickey, a University senior and actor in the play. “It makes me nostalgic to see a western that’s so broad.”

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