Theater department grows with performance of “Cousins”

With the theater department on the rise, another production is set the take the stage this week. “Cousins” is a poignantly comic examination of life in a small town in Texas during the 1920’s. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Horton Foote, “Cousins” is part of a collection of plays called “The Orphans Home Cycle.” This arrangement of plays concerns the conflict one family faces in a small-town existence during the early 1900’s.
Director Crystal Brian has a personal ambition for the production because she is currently writing a book about Horton Foote and has been learning about him for the past ten years. She compares him to Chekhov, in that his writing is not focused on plot. “The action is not overt,” she said. “But I think he is a powerful playwright.” Foote was also active in early television and film. He has had success as a film writer winning two Academy Awards and one of his most notable works is “To Kill a Mocking Bird.” The 84-year-old has been writing since the late 1930’s and his goal is to someday have all of the “The Orphans Home Cycle” produced. Currently five of the nine have been done.
This being Brian’s second year on Quinnipiac’s campus as the Director of the Theater Department, she is excited to take on this challenging play. “I think it’s a very difficult play. I think the students are working hard, and for many of them this is the first time they have worked like this. They have to dig deep to find meaning in the character and in themselves,” Brian said.
Assistant director, L.J. Atieh, has been working with the Theater Department for the past five productions and feels excited about the progress that is being done with “Cousins.” He said, “The actors have thoroughly grown into their parts.” He also mentioned a few of the cast members including Alexandra Chuba who will play the mother’s role of “Corella,” David Brand will portray the son, “Horace,” and Allison Clark will be the daughter, “LilyDale.”
Another new face to look out for is mass communications professor, Raymond Foery. With the final touches underway at rehearsals, Atieh feels the production is going to make an impression. “The great energy and closeness of the cast and crew is essential for the success of each production-and that’s what I feel we have.”
Atieh is also happy with the evolving Theater Department overall. “It’s growing. More and more people are becoming interested and a lot of them are just starting out here in college,” Atieh said. More than 80 people auditioned for the dramatic play and the numbers have been increasing with each new production. Along with the student-run Theater Workshop and the playwrighting contest being offered, the department has made some new additions including an affiliation with New Haven’s own Long Wharf Theater. A new course being offered will include lectures from some of the playwrights. The students will also attend rehearsals and productions throughout the entire Long Wharf season. Brian added, “They will read and analysis scripts and learn about the production of each play.” This course will also provide connections for internships.
Another new option for students is a course focusing on Theater and Youth. In parallel with the education department, the school has made a partnership with a local charter elementary school. Students enrolled in this course will receive training and first hand experience with adapting theater to our youth. Brian feels this will also be a multicultural event that celebrates the diversity of the children. “We hope to get the children to tell their stories,” she said. This course will also offer an exciting culminating activity, which will be a United Nations Evening, filled with entertainment.
“Cousins” will have performances on Nov. 8, 9 and 10, with a curtain time of 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for general admission. No reservations are necessary and tickets will be available at the door and in the student center during the week of the play.