Three senior Howard Payne University theatre students are spending the final weeks of the spring 2017 semester preparing for the one-act plays that will signify the completion of their time at HPU. The Student-Directed One-Act Plays, capstone projects for all HPU theatre students, will take place April 21-23 at the HPU theatre.
Gabrielle McWhirter of Crosbyton is directing “Going to a Place Where You Already Are.” Show times are April 21 at 7 p.m. and April 23 at 3:30 p.m. “I Hate Hamlet,” directed by Isaac Howell of Georgetown, will take place April 21 at 8:30 p.m. and April 22 at 7 p.m. Show times for “The Bald Soprano,” directed by Bryce McWhirter of Pflugerville, are April 22 at 8:30 p.m. and April 23 at 2 p.m. The plays are free of charge and the public is encouraged to attend.
“I’m so proud of each of their accomplishments,” said Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, chair of HPU’s Department of Theatre and professor of theatre. “The students have been hard at work on their plays and I’m excited to see the final results.”
Through the process of directing the one-act plays, seniors transition from cast members alongside their classmates to roles of authority. They make important decisions each step of the way, such as choosing the play, mapping character’s physical movements on stage, dealing with technical elements such as lighting and scenery, and finding props.
“It’s been fun getting to know the cast on a different level as their director rather than as their cast mate,” said Gabrielle McWhirter. “I’ve been working with mostly freshmen, but they’re really talented so I think it’s going to be a good show.”
Bryce McWhirter said it’s exciting to see his show begin to take form on the stage.
“I have nothing but volumes of good things to say about the cast,” he said. “We’re always finding new ideas and new ways to approach the scenes in our rehearsals.”
As underclassmen, each of the three performed in senior students’ one-act plays.
“I had good experiences working with student-directors, and I wanted to make sure my cast had that same kind of good experience while also ensuring the show is good,” said Isaac Howell.
By their last semester at HPU, theatre students have received instruction in acting, lighting, set building, makeup artistry, diction and all the other components of successful theatrical productions.
“All of the courses they have taken up to this point play into what they’re doing here,” said Dr. Humfeld. “It’s a fun business, but there a lot of details that need to be addressed.”
Gabrielle McWhirter said she’s amazed by Dr. Humfeld and the level of expertise she brings to HPU’s Department of Theatre.
“She thinks of everything so fast,” she said. “When I was reading my script, I thought, ‘How am I going to get ice cream onstage without it melting?’ Just like that, Dr. Humfeld said, ‘Mashed potatoes.’ I would never have thought of that.”
Dr. Humfeld, who is in her 31st year of teaching at HPU, said she encourages students to “be sponges” and absorb everything they can in life.
“You never know when some little tidbit you learn is going to help you in a show,” she said.
For more information about the plays, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at 325-649-8500.