By Lenita Krejci
Sixty years ago, Richardson Hall burned to the ground—the result of a fire so large that it could be seen all the way outside of the state. The Southwestern theatre has chosen to make this year’s homecoming play an original work, “The Richardson Fire Project: The Pillars Stand.”
Roger Moon, associate director of theatre and speech, said, “Susan Lowe, director of alumni, said last fall ‘Roger this story is so incredible. Wouldn’t it be something if someone wrote a play about it?’ I thought, ‘You must be crazy. Do you know how much time it takes to write a play?’ It wasn’t really my idea, but I found it irresistible, no matter how much work it may be.”
It did not take Moon long to snatch up the idea.
Adam Sharp, class of 2007, was asked to be the playwright. Sharp, who majored in English with a minor in theatre, has been writing plays since 2002. “At first I was a little hesitant because I didn’t really know too much about it,” said Sharp. “But once I got into the information, I really got into it.”
“The Richardson Fire Project” is based on in-person interviews with alumni and historical documents.
As they rehearse, actors realize that some of the very people they are playing will be sitting in the audience. John Badley, English senior, said it’s “absolutely horrifying.” Many fellow actors share in this apprehension, knowing that correct characterization and clarity are critical.
Although the smoke has settled and flames no longer engulf the walls, the history of Richardson lives on. Sharp would like to try and prepare the audience before opening curtain on Homecoming weekend. Sharp said, “There might be rumors on campus that it’s just a history play, but it’s not. You learn about the lives of previous students on campus and how similar that they are to students of today. It’s meant to be entertaining.”
In the words of Badley, “Be prepared to be proud to be a builder.”
Lenita Krejci is a senior majoring in speech and theatre education and musical theatre production. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.