LOOK AWAY by Jerome Kilty opens February 12th

Student-directed Look Away will kick off the spring season of shows at Belhaven.  Student blogger, Eric Henderson shares his thoughts on this stirring piece of theatre being produced in our Second Stage space.


‘Everyone on the train seems to be reading my letters. I heard one man refer to me as though I were dead.’

                               -Mary Todd Lincoln, Look Away


It is my pleasure to announce that on Thursday February 12th, 2015 a two-act play based on Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress and confidant, Elizabeth Keckley will kick off our spring semester of shows. This compelling production is based upon the life and letters Mrs. Lincoln wrote to friends and family during President Lincoln’s terms, after his assassination, and during her stay in the Bellevue Hospital for the insane.

The action of the play occurs in that hospital on Mary Todd Lincoln’s last night of residence before her sanity hearing.  A stirring journey toward hope and recovery through avenues of grief, the first show of our spring season is not to be missed. Look Away was first presented at the Playhouse Theatre in New York City on January 7, 1973 with Geraldine Page as Mary Todd Lincoln and Maya Angelou as Elizabeth Keckley.

Belhaven University’s Theatre department prides itself on seeing their students explore their truest potential. With that being said, senior Theatre Production major Anna Bryant directs the show with conviction, enthusiasm, and fervor. Bryant says, “Mary Lincoln and I have the bond of both being Kentucky-born. Her story pulls at the very heartstrings of life. This story has tragedy, love, and friendship intertwined together giving you the woman who stood faithfully by one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America.”

Look Away by Jerome Kilty runs Thursday, February 12th through Saturday, February 14th with performances nightly at 7:30 PM in our Second Stage space located in the Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Admission is free for Belhaven students, faculty, staff and their immediate families. For reservations, call 601-965-7026.

Chekhov – served three ways

In contrast to the article on authorial intent and protecting the playwright’s vision that I previously posted, this article in the Guardian talks about 3 different productions of Chekhov plays being performed in London – each with a unique vision of what it means to attempt to communicate what the playwright had in mind:  One traditional looking ‘samovar’ production, one minimalist, and one updated ‘contemporary’ production.

As a playwright, I am generally on the side of authorial intent.  Good playwrights think through all the elements of production, and if it’s a good play, all of those elements – text, design, staging, lighting etc. – should be aiding in making the play what it is.  I’m a believer in a traditional looking Beckett play, because the design of the space is part of what he was intending.  And if a production wants to tell an audience something other than what was intended, find another play.


As a director, I recognize that I am as guilty as anyone of taking liberties with the look and feel of the production of a play.  Steampunk Romeo and Juliet wherer the actors change roles every scene.  A blown-up Viewpoints improv production of Antigone.  A production of Murder in the Cathedral that looked like a Robert Wilson show.  But, for me, presenting those plays in that way had more to do with unlocking different elements of the play than regularly get released than it did with just ‘looking cool’ or ‘being interesting.’  These different elements were not OTHER than what was in the play, they were (and are) within – in the text, the language, in the implications of the situation, sometimes lost in the recontexting of a play (producing an ancient Greek play in 21st century America).  But my most sincere hope and prayer is that these productions are all still true to what was in the text of the play, and hopefully carry across to the audience what was intended by the author – even if it looks different.

So, do I want people to do that with my plays?  Well, no.  I’ve had the experience of someone making an alteration to a play of mine that I felt strongly changed what I had in mind, several times.  I’ve seen it drastically injure the intention of the play, putting “words in my mouth” that I never said and didn’t mean – an addition that was not what I had written.  But, if there’s a way of taking something that I’ve written and discovering something in it that I hadn’t noticed before and drawing it out of the text that is already there – I hope that I could find the joy in that.

Auditons for The Drunkard

Nest week begins the audition ofr the Spring musical,The Drunkard.  W.H. Smith’s The Drunkard lurched onto the stage  in 1844 and has been holding forth with beery charm ever since. With  a  score by Barry Manilow, audiences are wafted   back to a simpler period where “God is good and right is good, but  evil’s not so good, right?” Will our brave heroine, Mary, rescue her drink-besotted husband from the evils of bottled sin? (MTI)

For me, this musical presents in interesting idea about redemption and reconciliation. I beleive that theatre is meant to ask question giving you the oportunity to find these answers for yourself. I beleive it is up to us, the audience to seek and find the answers for themselves. The question this work asks is: How can I change my ways? Or how can I re-build the bridges of broken relationships that I once destroyed. Having come from a family thatwrestled with alcoholism this play espeacially speaks to me



The Week After

This is our first week after the closing of HENRY V.   The entire H5 team blew it out on the last day striking the set along with the rest of the Theatre Department.  The cast party was a pizza break for all.  I deeply appreciated this.  It took the entire department working together to pull the show off, so it is fitting that the cast party involve everyone together.  And it was fun.  The theatre majors at Belhaven know how to work, they know that they are integral in the storytelling.  What’s great about the process here is all members of the team are valued equally.  You may direct your senior project, then you are hanging lights for the next show and then stage managing a one act play that another student is directing.  There is no doubt that each job in the theatre demands different skills, however the work ethic must be the same and ultimately the service to the story for the sake of the audience is a group goal.  Joy is the result.  I’m grateful to now have space to process the rehearsals and run of HENRY V.  To ponder the work that was done and next time take another step forward in actor training.


We are heading into the breach dear friends.  Week 5 of rehearsals for our lean mean production of HENRY V.   This cut is designed for 8 actors (4 men/4 women) to tell the story of King Henry the V.  He wasn’t King for long but during his reign he took France for his own.  This is one of Shakespeare’s history plays which are full of humor, action and romance and this play doesn’t disappoint.

All 8 of the actors get a shot at playing King Henry.  (Henry has 8 scenes in the play)  Next week I’ll post a video from rehearsals…

This one hour and forty minute cut was done by Hisa Takakuwa with some help from me.  We produced it at Actors Co-op in Hollywood, CA in 2005 with Ms Takakuwa directing and myself acting.  It was a very low budget second stage production that really hit home America’s situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is no intermission and the play moves quickly.  The actors get a chance to play followers and leaders which really highlights the questions:  What does it mean to be a follower?  What does it mean to be a leader?  What if you are asked to go to war?  What do you do if you no longer believe in that war?  What does it mean to be conquered?

There will be a discussion after every performance and we’d love to talk with you about the play and how it resonates with you.  Follow!  Follow

Opening Angel Street

This week is the show week for our Theatre 151 production of Angel Street by Patrick Hamilton.  Last night’s opening was a wonderful performance, and was followed by a delicious tea and biscuits reception.

Angel Street is the first Theatre 151 production to flex the expectations of a performance in a small venue – usually the stage is set up as a traditional proscenium set-up, but for this show it was arranged as an ‘alley’ set-up, with the stage in the center of the room and a bank of seats on either side.  This made for an even more intimate presentation – which heightened the sense of suspense in the play; a Victorian thriller.  The impending return of a suspicious character is all the more intense when the furthest seat from the stage is hardly more than 10 feet away…

Congratulations to student director Ginny Holladay, the cast and crew of the show!


5th Annual One Act Play Festival!

November 30 and December 1 are the performance dates for the 5th Annual Belhaven University One Act Play Festival!

Since 2006, Belhaven has produced a One Act Play Festival at the end of each Fall semester, a culminating collaborative project between the students in the Directing and Production Supervision classes.  In various years, the production of the festival has also included contributions from students in either Lighting or Technical Resources class as well.

The One Act Festival is produced in a ‘dessert theatre’ format, the audience will sit at tables to enjoy a treat during the performances, which will appear on two stages in the theatre (to shorten the transition time between plays).  Admission to the show is free, and all dessert sales go to benefit Iota Upsilon, Belhaven’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega national theatre honorary society, sponsors of several community service and performance projects.

In past years, the students of the Directing class were on their own to find the material they would produce, which has given us a variety of material, from short plays by well-known, established playwrights, some lesser-known contemporary writers, and at least once each year, a brand-new original play.  This year, we decided to do something a little different.

The plays this year were chosen as the winners of the 2010 Belhaven University One Act Play Contest.  Scripts were submitted from all over the country by the beginning of September, and were read by the students, who each chose a winning play to direct.  This year, we are pleased to be presenting the following original plays:

Lucy Dreaming by Stacey Lane – directed by Becki Haynes
Los Libros Malos by D. Richard Tucker – directed by Deanna Smith
I, Satan, Confess by Moriah Whiteman – directed by Scott Gaines
Positive Thinking by Seth McNeill – directed by Dave Harris
Borders by Mallory Alexa Leonard – directed by Marie Warner
King Thrush Beard by Rosh Raines – directed by Lex Quarterman
Degrees of Repossession by Bret Kenyon – directed by Danielle Davis

4 of these playwrights are graduates of Belhaven, and 3 we are pleased to welcome as new associates to our theatre program!

With the success of this year’s contest, we are excited to see what next year’s contest has in store!  For more information about submission guidelines and deadlines, send an email to  “theatre at belhaven.edu” with the subject line 2011 One Act Play Contest.