This spring, the Waynesburg University Players are returning to a familiar feel for the spring play. While the players typically perform a musical for the spring semester, this semester’s production will be a play to limit aerosols on-stage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Returning to the tone of 2019’s “Farce of Nature,” the players will be putting on a production of “Doublewide, Texas” through Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Professor of theatre Edward Powers believes now is a good time to return to a southern comedy.
“I chose ‘Doublewide, Texas’ because it is another southern farce,” Powers said. “This show is full of wacky characters and funny lines.”
One of those characters, Big Ethel Satterwhite, will be portrayed by freshman child and youth ministry major, Rachel Duncan.
“Big Ethel is supposed to be a 60 year old woman with a big personality,” Duncan said. “So in preparation for that, I have been working on being more authoritative. She has some pretty long and funny lines, so I have also been studying over those a lot. Hopefully I can bring the character justice.”
Senior human services major Eden Koldys will be playing Georgia Dean, a restaurant owner born and raised in Texas, and is already immersing herself in southern culture to prepare for the part.
“I find myself reading the script over and over again,” Koldys said. “Looking into Southern media like movies and TV shows to try and get in the mindset of and get an understanding of what it’s like to live in the south.”
While social distancing on the stage of the Goodwin Performing Arts Center may seem easy for a cast of nine, Powers said there are still challenges.
“With a physical comedy some of the bits require close contact,” Powers said. “I’m having to find ways to make the comedy work and still maintain some distance.”
The players are taking a hybrid approach to rehearsal, with some taking place virtually while others are being held in person.
“Rehearsals are going very well. The cast likes the characters and the comedy,” Powers said. “Already we are looking forward to presenting this to an audience.”
Duncan said that while there are challenges to doing the show under restricted circumstances, the group is making the most out of the situation.
“We recently started blocking the show with the Keep Waynesburg Well guidelines in our minds and it’s been pretty great,” Duncan said. “Of course there are some stage directions in the script that would have added to the comedy, but we are making the best with what we have.”
Koldys and Duncan are both pleased with the comedic value of “Doublewide, Texas” and hope students will tune in for the production.
“I believe that ‘Doublewide, Texas’ was a great choice,” Duncan said. “I personally love comedies and this one hits it right on the nail. It’s hard to keep a straight face when you hear everyone deliver their lines in their accents, but that just makes rehearsal 100 times better.”
“It’s a comedy and it definitely shows,” Koldys said. “There are very vibrant characters and many jokes throughout the show that make it very enjoyable. I feel that the students who actually take the time to see it and appreciate the work we put into it will absolutely enjoy it.”
“Doublewide, Texas” will be performed by the Waynesburg University Players on March 24, 25, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. Viewers can make reservations to watch a live stream of the production at waynesburg.ticketleap.com/doublewide beginning in March.