Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star

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It was a 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible in west Texas. It was a roadhouse saloon. It was a few old license plates and some beer advertisements. It was laundry and gossip. It was Lone Star.

On Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m., students and community members entered Swisher Theater to experience two one-act plays: “Laundry & Bourbon” and “Lone Star”. The production was directed by Deborah Jordan and starred Katarina Howell, Elizabeth Caulder, Amy Lee Fullernoy, Nick Boucher, Roy Matos and David Bilbray. The two plays detailed the interconnected lives of a group of men and women as they attacked life issues and hurdles with bitterness and humor.

The audience was transported back to Maynard Texas in the summer of 1975 the second they walked into the theater, as the set highlighted the tones and emotions before the performance even began.

“There’s two philosophies,” Ben Wilson, set and lighting designer, said. “Some people just look at a set of being the backdrop where the action takes place and setting the scene. I’m not a great believer of that. I believe the set should be an integral part of the action and environment that characters can interact with, so it’s not just a backdrop; it’s a part of a show. And their personalities like the teddy bear vase that was on the house in the first act. You have to ask, what would Elizabeth have up there?”

The set consisted of an old wooden house and a worn out bar. The set took roughly four weeks to build and to decide how the lighting would work. Since this was a one-act play with few cast members, Wilson wanted the lighting to be condensed. Wilson also took into account the inner conflicts of the characters when deciding how the set would be designed.

“When the guys are on stage, his house is still there so we never lose the connection and the same when the girls are on the stage; the bar is right there,” Wilson said. “Just to come up with this environment that really reflected their outside and inside personalities. That’s the approach. If you notice in the show the actors, especially the guys with the lighting and the things like that, was really confined. And that was the purpose because in a sense Roy is kind of trapped from this life after he comes back from Vietnam and the same for Elizabeth. Everything is the same but not.”

Freshman psychology and theater major, Malarie Warren, stage managed the show and enjoyed working with the cast members and production staff.

“I think it went very well,” Warren said. “The actors worked really hard and a lot of good people came to support them. The girls worked with dialogue tapes and they put a lot of effort into it, so that was a cool experience in the rehearsal process.”

Students at the university also thought the performance went well and enjoyed the show.

“It was an interesting exposition of human character,” Sarah Pamplin, freshman aviation and vocal performance major, said. “It gave fascinating insight into the affects of the Vietnam war on people’s personal lives. It was very entertaining and a great way to spend the evening.”

Students, faculty and community members are not the only ones judging the performance. The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, a national organization that celebrates the educational and creative process of university and college theater, will be at Swisher Theater on Saturday, March 2, to evaluate the production.

“They are coming to adjudicate us, to review,” Warren said. “They offer scholarships, internships, grants and awards for actors, playwrights, designers and stage managers. They critique both the national and state levels. Since they’re coming to review us, we are eligible to participate in the KCACTF regional festival and we can also be considered for the national festival in Washington DC.”

“Laundry & Bourbon” and “Lone Star” will be performed in Swisher Theater again on March 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 2:30 p.m. The show is free for students, faculty and staff.

“I really enjoyed this play,” Wilson said. “I’ve wanted to do this play for a long time. We had a really good cast for this type of show. All the characters just slid into their parts like they were made for them.”

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