Austin College Presents Lively Day of the Dead Production Día de Muertos

Austin College Presents Lively Day of the Dead Production Día de Muertos

Brilliant colors, vibrant dance, artful words, and a dose of humor will bring a de Muertos alive for one night at Austin College on Monday, November 5, at 5 p.m. as the Austin College Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies presents Day of the Dead – La Catrina Mexica y Nezahualcóyotl” in Hoxie Thompson Auditorium of Sherman Hall. The performance, presented mostly in Spanish with an English introduction, is very visual so can be enjoyed regardless of language, organizers explain. The event is free and open to the public; auditorium doors open at 4:30 p.m. Sherman Hall is located on Grand Avenue.

 Artists and actors Erik De Luna and Román Iván Gómez will bring to life the dance, poetry, philosophy, and rites of central Mexico one century before the arrival of the Spanish. This performance will feature a pre-Hispanic personification of death (la Catrina prehispánica) and the 15th-century poet king Nezahualcóyotl.

Erik De Luna is an amazing artist who not only has a keen original aesthetic but also a performers ability to sense an audience,” said Dr. Julie Hempel, director of the Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies. The show that he is bringing to Austin College is based on the theme he is presenting this year in Querétaro, Mexico. He is working with seasoned actor Román Iván Gómez who will portray the Pre-Hispanic poet Nezahualcóyotl. The performance will be mostly in Spanish, but it is also full of visuals, dance, and rituals, so it will be entertaining to a wide audience. It is a rare chance to see how ancient Mexicans celebrated Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, is a Latin American holiday of celebration and festival that honors the dead and the belief that on this day, the dead join the living in celebration.Though held a few days after the American Halloween, the holidays are not related, and Day of the Dead is not considered a scary or sad event. Skeletons and skulls that are the familiar symbols of the day are nearly always festively decorated and portrayed as enjoying life. 

Erik De Luna began his artistic career with a bachelors degree in graphic design. While studying at the Autonomous University of Querétaro in Mexico, he joined the university theater group Los Cómicos de la Legua.” Through acting, he discovered a passion for performance and costume design in addition to drawing and the visual arts. He has continued to write, direct, and perform shows at the university theater for the past 19 years, most notably shows centering on Day of the Dead. In 2003, Erik designed a lotería game featuring images to match the more than 50 names that Mexicans use to personify death.  Since then, he has portrayed the Catrina (a traditional death figure) and continued to draw, paint, and design costumes for more than 100 Catrinas. He has appeared on the cover of National Geographic Traveler as theCatrina Monarca” and as an invited artist during the premiere of the movie Coco in Morelia, Mexico. In the past two years, he has performed throughout Mexico and internationally in Shanghai, Madrid, and Vienna

Román Iván Gómez, an architect by training, has acted with Los Cómicos de la Legua” at the Autonomous University of Querétaro theater for almost 13 years. Most recently, he appeared in the all-male production of La Casa de Bernarda Alba. Other productions include: Bajo tierra, Salón Calavera, Milagritos a la orden, La tradicional pastorela navideña, Yerma, and Los gritos mudos de las voces muertas.These last three works are musicals directed by Maestro Alejandro Celia.

The Austin College Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies promotes collaborative learning between students of the college and faculty members, with special emphasis on the historical, cultural, social, economic, and political issues facing Texas and Mexico.

 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 LivesAustin 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.

Spy Thriller Parody ‘The 39 Steps’

Spy Thriller Parody ‘The 39 Steps’

39 StepsTales of intrigue on a cinematic scale come to the Austin College stage when The 39 Steps is presented November 15 through November 17, with shows at 7:30 each evening. Tickets are $8 for the general public or free with a current Austin College ID. The Austin College Improv Troupe will perform each night after the feature play. For more information call 903.813.2281. The script includes some simulated violence and gun play but no significant adult themes.

The script by English playwright, actor, and comedian Patrick Barlow is a stage adaptation of the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the classic 1935 movie by Alfred Hitchcock. The play is unique because the more-than-130 characters included are played by only four actors. Words like spy thriller, comedy, and “a dash of Monty Python” have been used to describe the production that premiered in June 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Austin College senior Jacob Dowling of Little Rock, Arkansas, selected the script and directs the student production. “I wanted to do something that would be challenging to put on a stage, and not the usual thing of people standing on stage just talking about their problems. I wanted to do something bigger, cinematic, and also fun. The 39 Stepschecks all those boxes,” he said.

With all the elements of a spy thriller, The 39 Steps includes staging feats and the humor of parody while the story travels from London to the Scottish highlands.

Main character Richard Hannay, played by senior Marissa Wilkinson of Wilsonville, Oregon, is framed for a crime and is on the run from the police. Vignette adventures unfold including three different love interests, all played by senior Sarah Klawun of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and a plane chase that references Hitchcock’s classic movie North by Northwest. Junior Robbie Moore of Garland, Texas, and senior Bailey Carrell of San Antonio, Texas, play the many remaining characters in the story.

The student production includes the following production staff members: sophomore Michael Megenhardt of Houston, stage manager; junior Drew Maienschein of Claremore, Oklahoma, and Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, assistant stage managers; senior Matthew Rapier and Erin Bobbit both of Plano, Texas, sound designers; junior Aurora Hadzic of New Market, Maryland, costume designer; and Harper Jambor and Abbey Goodman both of Austin, Texas, properties designers. Liz Banks, associate professor of theatre, designed the set and lights.

In December, the Austin College directing class will present a series of one-act plays.

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 LivesAustin 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.

Austin College Theatre Department Opens Season

Austin College Theatre Department Opens Season

Sherman Texas | September 24, 2017

The Austin College Theatre Department will open its season with Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan September 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. in Ida Green Communication Center’s Beardsley Arena Theatre. General admission is $8 or free with the presentation of a valid Austin College ID. For more information, call 903.813.2281. Advisory: the play includes significant profanity.

the Cripple of Inishmaan

A Talk Back with the cast will follow the September 28 performance; a performance by Austin College’s Improv Troupe will follow the September 29 production.

The play, directed by Dan Pucul, a 2004 graduate of Austin College and the Theatre Department’s full-time technical coordinator, is a dark comedy set in 1934 Ireland—specifically a tiny island in the Galway Bay called Inishmaan. The plot centers around Billy Claven, the town’s orphan boy who’s been deformed from birth and lives a quiet life with his two adopted aunts, Kate and Eileen, in their general store. That is, until one day when JohnnyPateenMike brings news that an American named Robert Flaherty will be directing a new film on the neighboring island of Inishmore. “The Cripple of Inishmaan is a play about what makes a place a home and what make people a family,” Pucul said.

The cast includes senior Emma Grundy of Wichita Falls, Texas, as Cripple Billy Claven, with senior Sarah Klawun of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and freshman Abby Goodman of Austin, Texas, playing aunts Eileen and Kate, respectively; sophomore Kyle Andrle of Allen, Texas, Bartley McCormick; junior Harri Drake of Whitesboro, Texas, Slippy Helen; senior Matthew Rapier of Plano, Texas, as JohnnyPateenMike; senior Christopher Cooper of Midland, Texas, BabbyBobby Bennett; sophomore Alexandra Baker-Livingston of Richardson, Texas, Mammy O’Dougal; and freshman Harper Jambor of Austin, Texas, Doctor McSharry.

The design team includes sophomore Anna Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, costumes; senior Bailey Carrell of San Antonio, Texas, sound; freshman Nick Chaviers, projections; junior Aurora Hadzic of Lubbock, Texas, and senior Rebekah Urban of Whitesboro, Texas, “commanders of the Prop Army.” Liz Banks of the theatre faculty designed the lights, and Pucul designed the set.

In November, the department will present the melodrama The 39 Steps, based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller. In the production that guarantees “lots of laughs,” four actors play 130 characters in the 100-minute production. Senior Jacob Dowell of Little Rock, Arkansas, will direct the production. In December, the directing class presents an evening of one-act plays to showcase student work.

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives.