The Newman University Theatre Department will present the world premiere of the play “Premature Burial,” written by Director of Theatre Mark Taylor Mannette. The play will be presented in the Jabara Flexible Theatre located in the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on Nov. 10, 11, and 12 at 8 p.m. with a special matinee show on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices are $10 general admission, $5 seniors, Newman University faculty and staff, non-Newman students, and free to Newman students with a student ID.
The play is adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Premature Burial,” written about the prevalent fear people had in the 19th century of being buried alive. Mannette said the play focuses primarily on one paragraph in Poe’s work in which he describes a love triangle as an example of someone being buried alive.
The play was entirely written by Mannette using his imagination inspired by Poe’s work. It is directed by Jon Meyer and assistant director Kate Rhoads.
The play is set primarily in France and is told through the point of view of a demon, who torments the main characters in the play: a woman named Victorine, a poor poet Victorine falls in love with, Victorine’s father, and a banker Victorine’s father has arranged for her to marry as part of a business deal.
The poet is also a journalist, who criticizes the banker in the newspapers. Victorine becomes a shadow of her former self, and falls into a Juliet-like sleep, which the others take for her death. Following her burial, Victorine’s lover digs her up and finds she is alive. The couple moves to America and live as husband and wife for 20 years. When they return to France, however, Victorine is recognized by the banker, and a court battle ensues over who is her legal husband.
“This play is really pretty great,” said Trevor Farney, who plays the role of Renelle, the banker. “I could not be happier with the cast, director, and characters.”
Josie Jenkins, who plays one of the demon’s minions, said, “Jon, the guest director, is awesome to work with. It’s difficult to turn into such dark characters, and it’s a difficult challenge to create that character, but he’s making us find those movements, which is helpful.”
“I think that people like to see some entertainment where sometimes they’re scared a little bit, and that kind of adrenaline that puts one on the edge of their seat,” Mannette said. “That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do the play, but I also put some humor into it, some dark humor especially with the demon that’s being used, so that even if we get tensed up there’s a release to it. It’s a little bit of an emotional roller coaster for the audience.”
The cast consists of:
- Thorn, the demon, played by Mark Carlson
- Thorn’s minions: Blick, played by Lucas Farney, Venis, played by Josie Jenkins, and Rhunt, played by Ieuan Sion Thomas
- Victorine, played by Lauren Spencer
- Lafourcade, Victorine’s father, played by Mark Carlson
- Renelle, the banker, played by Trevor Farney
- Bossuet, the poet, played by Carlos Sanchez
Mannette has written 28 plays, 10 of them being children’s plays. He is also still completing several plays. To learn more about the plays and Mannette, visit his website at Markmannette.com.