Theatre Department opens season with ‘Dark at the Top of the Stairs’

Sep 19, 2019

The Newman University Theatre Department begins this year’s dramatic season with “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” an American classic by William Inge.

Mark Mannette, Newman University director of theatre, explained what went into deciding on the play.

“Last fall, we did a comedy so I thought it was time to do a drama, and I wanted to do something from one of the great 20th-century playwrights. I have done quite a bit of Tennessee Williams, so I was doing something that wasn’t (Williams). I had a committee put together to decide between “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” which was up against “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller and “Long Day’s Journey into Night” by Eugene O’Neill.”

Students acting in the play believe that it is an important show to experience as it explores topics such as familial conflict, marital affairs and identity stereotypes. Lucas Farney, who will play Rubin Flood in the production, explained why dramas, in particular, are important to both watch and perform. 

“The same way that I have a cathartic experience with something going on in my own life, it helps me come to terms with it — it helps me deal with it in the shoes of a character where it would be too scary to do it outside of that,” explained Farney. “You have this safety and this comfort of knowing that it’s just a play, I’m just an actor. As an audience member, I’m just seeing it happen, it’s not real.”

Actors and actresses all have unique ways of connecting with a piece or getting into character. Junior Rooslana Rusk, who will play Cora Flood, expressed her excitement and bond with her character.

“I’m excited to be playing a matriarch again, I find a lot of humanity in those roles that I wouldn’t get to discover otherwise until much later in my life. They’re really interesting to step in the shoes of and to explore as an actress, and as a young actress, especially.”

Sophomore Allison Williams said, “I play Reenie Flood, who is the daughter of Rubin and Cora Flood. Reenie is a 16-year-old girl and she is getting ready for her first dance, and she’s terrified. She’s not comfortable with people her own age, or with people in general. She likes to read and play the piano.”

Williams believes this show will help everyone gain a better understanding of the lives of others.

“If somebody lashes out at somebody else, there’s probably something going on in their life that they’re not ready to talk about, or that they just don’t know how to deal with. That’s what I’m going to get out of this show — a better understanding and a better sense of empathy for other people, even if I don’t exactly know what’s going on.”

As the cast is already rehearsing and enjoying themselves, Rusk commented, “I’m also just excited to work with this class. I think we have a really talented ensemble of individuals that are going to make this play something very special.”

The production will take place Oct. 10-12 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. in Jabara Black Box Theatre located inside De Mattias Hall.

Admission is $10 for general public, $8 for military and senior citizens, $5 for outside students and Newman faculty or staff and free for Newman students with their ID.

For more information, contact Mannette at [email protected].