English Department Plays
The Department of English at Southwestern Adventist University is proud to provide students with the opportunity to participate in an English Drama Program. Every year, the Department of English plans a drama production which involves students from a variety of programs in an assortment of acting and production roles.
Importance of Being Earnest
SWAU’s English department presented Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest for the annual play. Due to the coronavirus, the production was rescheduled for October 29, October 31 and November 1 of 2020 at the Mabee Center's Wharton Auditorium.
The romantic comedy was set in England during the Victorian era and told the story of two men living double lives. Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff were two London aristocrats who disguise themselves as different people when they travel between the city and the country. As the story unfolded, audiences were entertained by the play’s fun, witty humor and the satirical jabs it took at Victorian era ideas of love and marriage.
“I choose comedies because people leave the theatre feeling really good and having had a good time,” Renard Doneskey, English professor and play director, says about how he chose this year’s play. “This play is always a crowd pleaser—the audience loves the fast-paced dialogue and clever twists.” What can audiences expect from this year’s play? Doneskey says super high-class acting and there’s a great actor in every part.
This year, Bryan Barrera, a senior English major who has performed in two previous plays at SWAU, played one of the lead roles. “The role of Jack excites me because I have never had a lead role before this one and I am a big fan of Oscar Wilde,” he says.
Comedy of Errors
In Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, a family separated by shipwreck many years ago all find themselves in the town of Ephesus on the same day. Egeon, an old man from Syracuse, is there in search of his son, Antipholus of Syracuse, and his son’s servant, Dromio of Syracuse, who, in turn, are searching for the twinbrothers they each lost in that childhood shipwreck: Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus. Shakespeare’s double set of twins leads to a series of hilarious scenes of mistaken identity, and the play ends with a lovely scene of reunion and reconciliation. The setting for the 2019 performance was a 1960s Miami street, complete with art deco buildings and vintage costumes.
Moliere’s masterwork, Tartuffe, created a stir when it was first performed in France. It has remained popular, and controversial, ever since. Audiences love the story of family beset by problems, brought about because the head of the house, Orgon, has fallen under the spell of a charlatan and hypocrite, Tartuffe, who poses as a religious man but actually shows himself to be greedy and lascivious. With fantastic costumes, a gorgeous set and wonderful acting, Tartuffe was a huge hit and very well attended. It also made audiences ponder how reason relates to passion and how authoritarianism must be tempered with thoughtfulness.
She Stoops to Conquer
Oliver Goldsmith’s classic play, She Stoops to Conquer, tells the story of two young men who travel to meet women they may eventually marry. Due to mishap along the way, the men arrive at the house of Mr. Hardcastle, thinking that it is an inn. One young man, Marlowe, is so shy he cannot even make eye contact with Hardcastle’s daughter, the beautiful Kate. When Kate dresses “down” into a maid’s outfit, however, Marlowe displays quite a different character. This play demonstrates how “elastic” great drama can be, as we set the work in contemporary Texas, with Hardcastle being a “good ole’ boy” Texan who just wants the best for his kin. As always, we saw great acting, terrific costumes and a well-decorated and elaborate stage.
Jane Austen's Emma
The classics never go out of style, as Jane Austen’s Emma made apparent on the stage of Wharton Auditorium. In this production, the large cast brought to life the troubles that occur when Emma thinks she is a great matchmaker and starts to order people’s lives for them, with disastrous results. Eventually she learns from her mistakes and even has a chance at love herself. Not only was the acting first rate, but also some of the actors got a chance to showcase other talents, as one actor created paintings for the stage--note the fireplace and mantle in the picture.