Feb. 20, 2004

Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

KU Theatre to stage Dustbowl play 'Thirst' March 2-7

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas Department of Theatre and Film and the University Theatre will stage "Thirst" by Kevin Mayer as part of the William Inge Memorial Theatre Series. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 2 through 5; 5 and 9 p.m. March 6; and 2:30 p.m. March 7 in the Inge Theatre in Murphy Hall.

"Thirst" is being directed by Danon Nicholae Park, Maryland Heights, Mo., graduate student. Lighting is by Robert Sturner, Overland Park sophomore, and sound is by Nicholas C. Mosher, Lawrence junior. Costumes are by Jessie Jo Cook, Lawrence sophomore, who also is assistant director of the production.

Set in the small town of Legion, Okla., "Thirst" examines the frailty of men and women within the devastating context of both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The town has withered into dust after the arrival and departure of Jack Herald. The play asks such questions as "Did this rainmaker bring hope or destruction to this town?" "Who is he?" and "Can this town be saved or will it be blown off the map?" These are some of the questions that Aaron Cable, a drought relief worker, must answer with regard to helping those in Legion, the surrounding area, the nation at large and ultimately himself.

"Thirst" is written from a Christian theological perspective; however, the themes of devastation and the possibility of rebirth are "relevant to anyone that honestly approaches the performance text," director Park said.

"The subject matter of 'Thirst' creates a specific historical point to which Americans can return as part of their collective history," he said. "The play asks the audience to recall this time while contextualizing the Christ within a more contemporary relevance so that the individual audience member can evaluate his actions honestly."

Park said the play is not expected to force any specific belief upon the audience. Instead, he and the cast are attempting to allow the events to speak to people.

General admission tickets for "Thirst" are on sale at University Theatre, (785) 864-3982; Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS; SUA, (785) 864-7469; and online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are $12 for the public, $10 for all students and KU faculty and staff, and $11 for senior citizens.

Members of the cast for the KU production include (listed by name, class, parents' names, high school and role):

From Iola
Samantha S. Raines, senior, daughter of Susan Raines; Iola High School graduate; Tired Woman.

From Lawrence
Summer Eglinski, junior, daughter of Ed and Pam Eglinski; Lawrence Free State High School graduate; Faye.
Scott Johnson, senior, son of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Johnson; Lawrence Free State High School graduate; Cordell Williams.

From Hays
R. Troy Hirsch, sophomore, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hirsch and Mr. and Mrs. Mark Massaglia; Hays High School graduate; Dudley Montrose.

From Lake Quivira
Marie C. Mullinix, junior, daughter of Jim and Tina Mullinix; Blue Valley North High School graduate; Flossie.

From Leawood
Courtney Schweitzer, freshman, daughter of Ken and Linda Schweitzer; Blue Valley High School graduate; Pinky.
Alex Beaird, age 12, daughter of Scot and Tammy Beaird; Central Elementary School; Hungry Girl, Faye's Daughter and Tired Girl.
Quinlan Beaird, age 10, son of Scot and Tammy Beaird, Central Elementary School; Lorraine's Son and Jewell's Son.
Brandon Ford, freshman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Walker; Olathe East High School graduate; the Preacher.

From Overland Park
Candice Bondank, freshman, daughter of Kathy and Robert Curren; Shawnee Mission South High School graduate; Smart Young Woman.

From Shawnee
Laura Leffler-McCabe, graduate student, daughter of Marshall and Linda Leffler; DeSoto High School and Baker University graduate; Jewell.

From Tecumseh
Wendy Lynn Casebier, senior, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Terry Casebier; Lorraine.

From Falmouth
Carter R. Waite, freshman, son of David and DeDe Waite; Falmouth High School graduate; Aaron Cable.

From Lakeville
Justin Knudsen, sophomore, son of Ken and Barb Knudsen; Lakeville High School graduate; Jack.


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