Southeastern Theatre presents staged reading of alumna's play
by: Tonya Lowentritt
HAMMOND- Southeastern Louisiana University will host a staged reading of a new play titled "High and Mighty" on Saturday, March 8.
But this isn't just any play. It was was written by Southeastern alumna and retired Director of the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts and Fanfare Donna Gay Anderson of Hammond.
Although it is her first play, Anderson is no stranger to theater. She lived in New York, where she attended the National Shakespeare Conservatory and worked as an actress. Upon her return home, she taught theater at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Additionally, her mother, the late Vonnie Borden, was the first theater professor at Southeastern, where she taught for years. Appropriately, the staged reading will take place in Vonnie Borden Theater in D Vickers Hall at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Anderson said anyone who is curious about the story or the process of new play development is welcome to attend.
The setting is an upper east side Manhattan Presbyterian church in the 1980's where a group of young adults struggle with their consciences when relationships, morality and emotions tumble. Although everyone is welcome to attend, Anderson said strong language and sexual references are included in the script.
Since it is her first play, Anderson turned for guidance to Southeastern Assistant Professor of Theater and Directing Jim Winter, an award-winning playwright.
Winter read the play, liked it, and wanted to be part of the process of further developing the script. Consequently, he is directing the reading.
"I was thrilled when Jim suggested a staged reading at Southeastern," Anderson said. "He is such a fine director and has guided me through this process masterfully. Having Southeastern theater faculty and students endorse my play is the ultimate compliment."
So far, Anderson said, there have been three table readings and three workshop days during which actors walked around with her script. Presently, they are preparing for the stage reading of the play, which includes 10 songs by Southeastern graduate Drew Zerinque, and student Bridget Lyons Zeringue.
Anderson said a staged reading is not a full production, and that she doesn't want anyone to expect that. It is a rehearsed, directed reading of the script by actors on a stage.
"There are no costumes or sets, just minimal lighting and sound. The purpose of a reading is to get reactions and comments from a live audience," she said. "After all, plays are meant to be performed, not simply read in private. Readings give the audience a role to play in the development of the play. For a playwright, it is a bit intimidating, but also extremely helpful."
Acting in the staged reading are Olivia Matte of Covington, Coco Kunstman of Stuttgart, Germany, Lisa Morrison of Hammond, Tyler Meyer of Mandeville, Kayla Hill of Walker, Randy Malbrough of Gonzales, Barbie Vallot of Ponchatoula, Chelsea Krause of Baton Rouge, and George Sanchez of Slidell.
Performing the music are Southeastern students Brent Goodrich of Sulphur, Analynn Sober of Lake Charles, Ben Vollentine of Covington, and Bridget Lyons Zeringue of LaPlace. Serving as accompanist is Drew Zeringue of LaPlace.
A question and answer session will immediately follow the reading for the purpose of further refining the script.
For more information, contact the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, 985-549-2184.