By Jonathan Woon
60 years ago, on April 17, 1950, a blaze consumed Richardson Hall. “The Richardson Fire Project: The Pillars Stand” is a play based on a device script that takes the audience back to the scene of the fire. The play opens on Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. followed by two other performances on Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium.
A total of 37 students, faculty, staff and alumni are involved in the production team. Alumnus Adam Sharp, class of 2007, wrote the script. Matthew Thompson, assistant professor of religious studies, plays Alvin W. Murray, former President of the College.
Roger Moon, associate professor of theater and speech, is directing the play. “The biggest goal of the play is to tell the story to students in a way that they really become part of the culture of SC and realize how important SC has been to past generations that have given so much that they sometimes take for Granted,” he said. “For alumni, the play acts as a way to tell the story truthfully.”
As Homecoming is early this year, the team has been putting a great amount of effort to make “The Richardson Fire Project” a successful and memorable production. Moon said rehearsals have been intense as the production team has only had four weeks to rehearse prior to their first show on Thursday. He describes the effort as a “Phenomenally compressed experience with rewards.”
“There are two acts in the play,” said Moon. “The first act is about the fire and the second are about how everyone fought to help rebuild Southwestern.” The story is told on a personal level from the perspectives of people who were affected by the fire.
In terms of preparation, there is still much to be done. The play does not only rely on the capability of actors to express each character. John Badley, philosophy & religious studies senior, is a lighting designer for the play. He said a lot of light, sound, music and projection will be used to help enhance the play. Badley said, those involved in the technical crew usually work until the wee hours of the day.
“Besides technical aspects, preparing to act is also a tough task,” said Badley, who also acts as Fred Fry, Clyde Vasey, Emmett Smith, Phil Jarvis and Ray Streeter in the play. Many members of the cast play several characters and face the challenge of articulating differently when playing different characters.
Having such effort put into the play, Moon said he hopes to see audiences making remarks like “Oh my gosh, I had no idea that happened,” after watching the play.
Polina Dyadyk, psychology senior, who acts in the play said “I take pride in my identity as a Moundbuilder due to this play compared to any other single experience I’ve had at SC.”
Jonathan Woon is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.