Curtis Meyer, reporter
Whether one likes fairytale classics, historical biographies, or cautionary tales, one can find it all at Pitt State Theatre this season.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Megan Westhoff, professor of communication and director of PSU Theatre. “I think sometimes for musicals you get people different then when it’s a historical or contemporary play, different people who just show up and are like ‘oh you have theatre on campus?’ and they’ve never heard of it.”
“Once Upon a Mattress” will be the first show of this season, running Oct. 27-30. In this adaptation of the fairy tale the Princess and the Pea, we have Winnifred the Woebegone, a shy and awkward princess who is trying to win the heart of Prince Dauntless. However, the Prince’s mother stands in the way of anyone who tries.
“It kind of takes the traditional fairy tale story and flips it a little bit,” Westhoff said. “The princess is an awkard, somewhat shy person, but she doesn’t care what people think about her, doesn’t try to fit in. Now the prince is the exact opposite, he is kind of the damsel in distress. He is kind of a mama’s boy, mama’s gonna tell him how to act, and he can’t think for himself.”
Westhoff will be the director for this show, a musical, and it will be the only one ran by Pitt State Theatre this Fall/Winter. However, on Dec. 1-2 the Grubbs Theatre will host Theatre Unplugged, free to the public.
“Theatre Unplugged” is student led and run and features numerous different shows. It is the final exam for all the Stage Direction class. However one doesn’t need to be enrolled in the class to participate, whether one wishes to audition or work behind the scenes.
“They are preparing for a public presentation of a one act play,” Westhoff said. “So they learn through the semester how to be a director, then they pick their one act play, they go through the process of securing royalties, which cost money, you have to buy the royalties in order to produce a play, then they have auditions, they cast their show, and then they collaborate. This creates some interesting plays, as there are classmates working together to create a short performance. At the same time you have another classmate overseeing them and telling them what to do. How do you tell your friend, ‘Hey, you need to do better?’ That’s very hard to do.”
The theatre will reconvene on Feb. 23 through 26 for a historical play called “Emilia.” Based on a real person, Emilia Bassano is believed to be the “dark lady” in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. However, all that does is overshadow her own accomplishment as the first woman to publish a collection of poetry.
“Shakespeare is more well known, he is a well-known playwright, so he was sometimes known for taking works of others,” Westhoff said. “This is an all-female show, it looks at the character of Emilia at three different times of her life, and is played by three different women. It looks at gender in society, it looks at status.”
The final show will be on April 20-23. The play adaptation of the book “Animal Farm,” written by George Orwell, it is a tale warning of the dangers posed by totalitarianism. When the animals on Mr. Jones’ farm decide that they aren’t getting treated correctly, they revolt, under the guidance of Major the Pig. Things go smoothly, until Napoleon the Pig starts to use his power corruptly and threatens to ruin the animals’ hard fought freedom.
Tickets are free for anyone with a valid student ID, and can be picked up at the PSU ticket office.