By Mariah Halbert, Staff Writer
November 7, 2023
The Ouachita Baptist University theater department’s debut performance of the play Stage Door is set for Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. This production highlights the story of a boarding house for female actresses engaging and investing their futures in finding jobs in the theater industry. Terry, the lead character, is challenged with the hardships and criticisms in an industry that is transitioning from live acting on stage to recorded acting on the screen, “talkies.”
The details going into the production are as big as the props to as small as the little movements the actors make from one side of the stage to the other. Brynlee Beams, the student Stage Manager of Stage Door, explains the motivation behind every movement from each actor.
“Every movement within the play has a motivation…when a character moves a certain direction on stage, they’re portraying some level of power or some level of intention,” Beams said.
The actors you see on stage aren’t just performing a spoken understanding and impression of their character, but they’re choreographed by the director to further reflect and embody their character’s nature.
The actors and crew behind the curtains have invested a lot of time and energy into this production. John Forkner, the director of the play, notes that the rehearsal time is similar to a familiar element of campus life.
“If you’ve ever participated in Tiger Tunes, a lot of the rehearsals look alike,” Forkner said. “Students are waiting on their turn to rehearse on stage by doing homework in the back.”
The lead character, Terry, leans on the group of women she lives with as the challenges and criticisms of this industry build up on her. This play displays the power of connection.
“I think Stage Door is ultimately a story about how much we need one another,” Forkner said.
Even though this isn’t an overtly Christian play, Forkner recognizes that Terry speaks to a parallel in Christians’ present world.
“How often are we encouraged to give in to what everyone else is doing, and how important it is for us to be plugged into a community of believers who can help bear our burdens when we are going through times of serious doubt, staged or depicts that struggle?” Forkner asked.
The play is multilayered, with both elements of drama and comedy.
“I think of this play as a dramedy because it’s funny and lighthearted… but there are a lot of hard hitting things because this is attempting to portray a realistic life in the 1920’s,” Beams said.
Professor Forkner desires that the audience might even go as far to find similarity in their own lives compared to Terry’s.
“I hope that our audiences will see a little bit of their own journeys in Terry’s story, even if they’re not aspiring Broadway stars,” Forkner implored.
Other performances of the play include Nov. 9-11 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit obu.edu/boxoffice.