Emporia State University Theatre presents “Family Furniture”

September 1, 2017

ESU’s Theatre Department is set to present its first production of the year, “Family Furniture.” The play’s author A.R. Gurney — who passed away in June of this year — is an audience favorite, and  ESU Theatre has produced several of his works including “The Dining Room,” “Love Letters” and “Sylvia.”

“Family Furniture” was inspired by Gurney’s own life and the culture of the 1950s when he was a young adult. The show focuses on a young adult brother and sister pair who must come to terms with traumatic events going on in their family. The potential of a mother’s infidelity and a father’s apathy threatens to divide a seemingly normal, nuclear family in a society where keeping up with appearances can be more important than honesty.

The play is under the direction of Professor Theresa Mitchell, who is excited for audiences to see the unique story that Gurney’s perspectives provide.

“‘Family Furniture’ is about a family shifting perceptions and attitudes during the summer of 1951 at their summer home on Lake Erie. Russell and Claire have two college-age children, Peggy and Nick, who are expanding their social connections and experiences. Claire wants to let her children experience all that life offers, while Russell wants to protect his children’s future by influencing their choices,” Mitchell said. 

The production staff features Lighting Designer Nancy Pontius. Technical Director Chris Lohkamp also designed the play’s scenery. Costume Designer Amanda Dura is researching 1950s fashions to give the play an authentic look. Student members of the production staff include Dustin Bittel (Ellis), production stage manager, and assistant stage manager Isabella Harvey (McPherson). Matt Mahr (Overland Park) will serve as House Manager.

The cast of the play features Paige Lundin (Wichita) as Claire, Drew Ashland Noss (Mound Valley) as Russell, Torin Horvik (Fargo, North Dakota) as Peggy; Ryan Howerton (Haysville) as Nick and Isabelle Nelson (Olathe) as Betsy.

The rest of the company includes MacKenzie Needham (Andover) who will serve as Lightboard Operator, and Sean McConville (Gardner) as Sound Board Operator. The set and props shift crew are Emily Rayson (Ottawa) and Cameron Webb (Shawnee). Amber Gaffney (Kansas City, Missouri) and Squid Monteith (Topeka) are the Scenery Construction Crew. Erin Dublin (Olathe) will serve as Costume and Makeup Crew Chief, overseeing the costume crew of Hannah Lingard (Topeka), Keegan Lawrence (Butler, Missouri), Jeayun Im (Pohang, South Korea) and Alma Santibanez (Wichita).

“Family Furniture” will play in the Ronald Q. Frederickson Theatre Ronald Q. Frederickson Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 through 30 with an additional matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 30. Emporia State University. Tickets can be reserved at the ESU Memorial Union Ticket Office or by calling 620-341-6378.

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