The Austin College Theatre Department will present its first play of the academic year, F. Andrew Leslie’s The Haunting of Hill House, October 11 through 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Beardsley Arena Theatre of Ida Green Communication Center. Admission is free with a valid Austin College ID, and general admission is $8, with tickets available at the box office just prior to show time.
The play is adapted from the novel by Shirley Jackson, and the production is directed by senior Harris “Harri” Drake of Whitesboro, Texas. She described The Haunting of Hill House as “the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House.” The main characters, as she explains them are Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting;” Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile, young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with some inexplicable phenomena, Drake said. “But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of the visitors to make its own.”
A theatre major, Drake said she chose this play for her directing opportunity as she loves Shirley Jackson, whose book the play is based on, and because the play had left her confused upon seeing it previously. She said she was interested to learn more about it and talk with actors and staff as they prepared the play in order to derive meaning from it. And, she has gotten new ideas, confirmations of previous thoughts, and seen “little moments that led into larger understanding,” she said. Theatre majors take a directing class, and may be offered the chance to direct upon completing it. Drake was pleased with the opportunity as she would love to work as an actor in theatre or movies upon graduation, but she plans to find ways to be involved in theatre regardless of her career.
The cast includes junior Hannah Barry of Dallas, Texas, as Eleanor Vance; freshman Zoe Crews of River Oaks, Texas, as Mrs. Dudley; sophomore Abbey Goodman of Austin, Texas, as Theodora; junior Kyle Andrele of Allen, Texas as Dr. Montague; freshman Harrison Vickmark of McAllen, Texas, as Luke Sanderson; senior Robbie Moore of Garland, Texas, as Mrs. Montague; and senior Andrew Maienschein of Claremore, Oklahoma, as Arthur Parker.
The production staff includes junior Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, as stage manager; senior Zsuzsa Ratliff-Johnson of Denton, Texas, and sophomore Nic Chaviers, of Houston, Texas, as assistant stage managers; sophomore Erin Bobbitt of Dallas, Texas, and freshman Taylor Griswold of Denton, Texas, as board operators; Chloe Schnaible of Allen Texas, light designer; junior Harper Jambor of Austin, Texas, sound designer; Liz Banks of the theatre faculty, set designer; and senior Lindsay Apgar of Harker Heights, Texas, and sophomore Rayanne Seymour of Stafford, Texas, prop designers.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.