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University Theatre Group Delves into Dark, Dysfunctional Family Comedy

October 07, 2013

Osage County

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas— August: Osage County tells the story of the Weston family at the time of its patriarch’s disappearance and subsequent death.  The director of the play, J. Don Luna, Professor and Chair for the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Department of Theatre and Dance, describes it as a dark family comedy that real people can relate to.

“It’s a family that has all of the trials and tribulations that all families have,” said Luna. “I think the audience will enjoy seeing all of the craziness that all families have, all the dysfunction that families have. They’ll probably walk out of here saying ‘that’s my family, that’s my story.’”

When the Weston family comes together  to deal with the death of the father,  as is often the case with a death in the family, people’s worst rather than best behavior rises to the surface.  Heather Williams, a senior from Salado, Texas, who plays ‘Violet Weston,’ the family matriarch with cancer, describes her character as a very passionate person.

“There are no small potatoes when it comes to her,” said Williams. “But that passion is not only her greatest strength, but as her greatest strength, it might also be her greatest weakness.”

Kei’la Ryan, a sophomore from Burleson, Texas, plays the part of ‘Barbara Fordham,’ the eldest Weston daughter, who returns home when she hears about her father’s disappearance.  When it turns out he is dead, she stays a little longer.  What happens next is a study in dysfunctional relationships.

“The relationship with her mother, the relationship with her husband, and her daughter are all just going out of control,” said Ryan.  “Obviously she is vulnerable and she has a lot of things that are tough in her life, but she’s strong about it.”

For the past eight months the Island University Department of Theatre and Dance has worked to capture the essence of this two hour production.  Luna says, while there are only 13 cast members, there are over 175 students in the department, and every single one of them has had a part in getting this play to opening night.  One of those cast members, David Scott, a freshman from Round Rock, Texas, who plays ‘Bill Fordham’, says it took a lot of rehearsal and a lot of late nights.  Work that the audience is sure to appreciate.

“I think it’s a very powerful play. It’s a dark comedy so there are some funny parts, but there are also some parts that just grab you by the throat,” said Ryan.

Something else the audience is sure to be impressed by are the costumes that were designed by Carly Belle Cason of San Antonio, the cast transformation made by makeup artist, Rose Karnes of Sonora, Texas,  and the intricate set designed by Kevin Loeffler.

“It’s a three-story set. It has realistic furniture, realistic props, and yet, it’s beautifully theatrical as well,” said Luna.

August: Osage County, written by Tracey Letts, has won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer and five Tony Awards in 2008.  The play will make its debut on the big screen in December with starring Julia Roberts and Meryl Street.   But none of those accolades are the reason Luna chose this particular production.

“We choose the plays first of all with the students in mind.  Considering what they need for the educational process,” said Luna.  “But we also choose plays that are good for the faculty so that we continue to grow as artists.”

August: Osage County opens on Tuesday, Oct. 15 in the Warren Theatre on the campus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  Show times are Tuesday, Oct. 15 through Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5.00 with Sand Dollar I.D., $6.50 for other students, and $10 for adults.  All proceeds from ticket sales support Theatre education for Island University students.  For more information click here

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