Photo by Madison Meyer
The Harding University Theatre Department will perform “The Rivals” for this year’s winter play on Dec. 8, 9 and 10.
The play will be performed with a “theatre-in-the-round” layout, a space where the audience surrounds the stage on all sides.
Dr. Steven Frye, chair of the Theatre Department, is directing the play and said he chose “The Rivals” because he thought it would be a good fit for this time of year and students would find it funny.
“It’s a fun show,” Frye said. “It’s fast and furious. We’re going to have cookies at intermission because biscuits, Christmas biscuits. And we’re just going to have a great time.”
Frye said that after casting the performers, they began with table reads and working to understand their characters. Because of the theatre-in-the-round set, rehearsals and directing had to take a different approach than usual.
“I think one of the things that I love about what we do in theatre is that we try to make things that our audience will enjoy and will learn and will grow from as well,” Frye said. “So ‘The Rivals’ is one of those projects that we go, ‘This is classical literature. It is funny and people need to be exposed to these things.’”
Junior Faith Noelle Carpenter plays the main character, Lydia Languish, and said the process of rehearsing has been both interesting and fun.
“My character Lydia is, simply stated, a pill,” Carpenter said. “She’s so rich that she is remarkably out of touch, and yet she isn’t inherently bad. She’s just a romantic. She loves to paint a picture by living big and loud which is always a fun way to play a character.”
Carpenter said she appreciates the relationships she has gained through this play and that she thinks the Harding community will appreciate the similarities between “The Rivals” and real life.
Sophomore TJ Brown will perform as Mr. Faukland. He said playing this character has helped him explore aspects of his own character and life.
“Learning what makes him the way he is, where all his anxieties come from and what his motivations really are, has made me reflect on myself and my relationships,” Brown said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process and I’m thankful for that.”
Brown said the setting of Bath, England, serves as both an escape for the characters and as a good break from the stress of finals and the holiday season.
The show will be performed in the Ulrey Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at hardingtickets.com.