By Jake Crouse
Furman University Theatre Department will open its last performance of the semester, “Arcadia,” April 13. The play is a cerebral Tom Stoppard thriller split between the early 19th century Romantic period and the present age. In the earlier setting, the audience follows the story of math prodigy Thomasina Coverly (Erin Barnett), her tutor and classmate of the famous Lord Byron, Septimus Hodge (Dakota Adams) and Thomasina’s mother, Lady Croom (Sarah Cushman).
The story then turns to Bernard (Sam Nelson) and Hannah (Elli Caterisano), two present-day scholars interested in Byron and the transition from the Classical age to the Romantic period. The researchers, with the help of Valentine Coverly (Cody Evins), a descendent of Lady Croom, try to piece together evidence from Lady Croom’s estate, and in the process, the audience begins to discover what may have happened between the characters presented in the first part, including conspiracies, battles and discoveries. The play is a commentary on nature of discovery of truth, order, science and history.
The production has required a lot of behind-the-scenes attention to master some tough intricacies. Furman Theatre brought in Jayce T. Tromsness of the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities to coach the cast on proper English accents, which is required from the entire 12-member cast. Carol Sutton, who directed “Rumors” at Furman, which earned Greenville News acclaim, has also guided the cast through extra rehearsals for the more difficult scenes to execute.
Katie Fleet heads up the crew as stage manager for “Arcadia,” and production is led by Haley Brown (lights), Taylor Jensen (sound) and Courtney Dorn (props). Lauren Girouard, a theatre arts and neuroscience double major, also helped with production research for this informationally-driven play.
Theatre professor Jay Oney, Ph.D., says the department has been eager to stage “Arcadia” for a long time, and this year, with help from the Duke Foundation and the Furman Arts Initiative, as well as a talented group of students, the exciting production has finally come to fruition.
“For all its intellectual brilliance, the passions of Stoppard’s characters as embodied by our student actors are what brings this play to life,” Oney said.
“Arcadia” will be shown at the Playhouse April 13-16 and 21-23 at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees April 17 and 24. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Furman Theatre box office at 864-294-2128. Tickets are $10 for faculty/staff/OLLI members/Woodlands residents, $13 for seniors, $16 for general admission and $8 for students ($5 for student rush).