Fresh Acts


Theater companies and students prepare for a busy year of performances

Alexis Eichelberger / For The Post

Ohio University and Athens host an array of theater productions throughout the year, from classics to students’ original works, performed by both theater students and acting enthusiasts who may be studying another subject.


The Division of Theater has four plays on its schedule for the upcoming year, with the first production, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), beginning in October. The division will finish Spring Semester with the Playwrights’ Festival, which will feature original works by three master’s students.

Rocky Horror

Carl Fonticella | FILE

Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played by Ian George, performs "Sweet Transvestite" along with the chorus during rehearsals of Lost Flamingo's Rocky Horror Picture Show in Bentley Hall.


Merri Biechler, assistant director of OU’s School of Dance, Film and Theater, said when selecting the plays to be performed each year, the Division of Theater must accommodate all different components such as directing, design, acting and playwriting for its students.


Biechler said she is particularly excited about two plays to be performed, In the Next Room and Top Girls, both of which were written by female playwrights.


“I think (the plays) are exciting and provocative and theatrical,” she said. “I think they are also really good conversation starters and good plays to have community conversations around gender and power and things like that.”


Thanks to Arts for OHIO, all productions by the Division of Theater are free to attend for OU students, which Biechler encourages students from all majors to take advantage of.


“Coming to the theater will enrich (students’) view of the world no matter what their major is,” she said. “If it’s education or engineering, this is another way to look at the world that’s only going to make them better students."


Philana Omorotionmwan, a graduate student studying playwriting, will be one of the playwrights whose original work will be showcased at the end of April in the Playwrights’ Festival.


Omorotionmwan’s creation, which she has worked on throughout the summer, explores how society attempts to “police black femininity,” specifically within schools. Lately, she said, there has been much discussion regarding how black boys and men are thought to misbehave more than their white peers. However, black girls struggle twice as much because they’re considered through the lenses of both race and gender.


“There’s certain expectations about how women are supposed to behave in terms of deferring to other people and being demure,” Omorotionmwan said. “Black girls are less likely to do that because there’s a need to assert oneself.”


The festival will be the first time Omorotionmwan sees her own work fully produced with sets, costumes and staging. She said she is looking forward to seeing how the directors and designers interpret her work to create the final product.


“I’m excited to see how it all comes together,” she said.


Outside the Division of Theater, the Lost Flamingo Theatre Company also produces several plays each semester. The company is entirely student-run, and, rather than being linked to academic credit, participation is extracurricular.


A popular Lost Flamingo production is Rocky Horror Picture Show, which the company performs each year in October. This year, the company will produce four more shows during Fall Semester: The Fall of the House of Usher, A Doll’s House, Arsenic and Old Lace and Play On!


Emma Wurst, the public relations director for Lost Flamingo and a junior studying psychology, has directed, acted and helped with sounds and lights for productions during her time with the company. This year, Wurst will direct one of Lost Flamingo’s fall semester productions, The Fall of the House of Usher.


“I’m just excited about this whole season because everything flows really well together,” she said. “I think it’ll intrigue a lot of people to (come to) some plays that maybe they’ve never heard about before.”


During recent years, Lost Flamingo has also begun to partner with local charitable organizations to delve deeper into the themes of the plays they perform. For example, the group once partnered with My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter, for a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. Proceeds from the production went to My Sister’s House, and a representative from the shelter spoke to the audience following the show.


“We always try to give back to the community by working with organizations or talking to other people,” Wurst said. “We’re all about trying to be an integral part of not just the university, but the community as well.”


Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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