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Lafayette College Theater’s salute to 20th-century American plays continues with Alison’s House by Susan Glaspell, winner of the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for drama, at 8 p.m. April 12-15, in the Williams Center Black Box.

For reservations call the Williams Center for the Arts, (610) 330-5009.

A brown bag preview featuring scenes from the play will be presented at noon Monday, April 10, in the Black Box. Lunch may be brought or purchased for $3.00.

The play is directed by guest artist Marlena Lustik. The distinguished actress has appeared on Broadway with Bert Lahr, Mildred Dunnock, and Theodore Bikel; off-Broadway with Sada Thompson, Kevin Conway, and Elizabeth Franz; and in regional theater, television, and film with Kevin Spacey, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Paul Winfield. She has directed off-Broadway and collegiate theatrical productions. Lustik’s teaching experience includes the School for Film and Television in New York, the Stella Adler Conservatory, and the American Musical Dramatic Academy.

“We are fortunate to have a thoughtful and experienced guest director, Marlena Lustik, working on the play with our students,” says Michael C. O’Neill, director of theater at Lafayette. “She is a seasoned actress and acting teacher, and her experience with the works of Anton Chekhov augments her approach to Alison’s House, which in many ways is Chekovian in its portrayal of characters with rich inner lives and in its theme of one era giving way to another.”

Scenery and lighting design is by Richard A. Kendrick, Lafayette’s technical director of cultural programs. Costume design is by D. Polly Kendrick, Parrott Designs. The stage managers are juniors Kimberly Corbett of Clifton, N.J., and Chris Valenti of Summit, N.J.

The sound designer for Alison’s House, Timothy Frey, was recognized by the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival for outstanding sound design for Lafayette College Theater’s production of Working at the ACTF mid-Atlantic festival Jan. 15.

Suggested, in part, by a controversy over publication of the private papers of American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86), the play examines gender and generational conflicts within the fictional Stanhope family, all of whom are related, by blood and spirit, to Alison Stanhope, a celebrated deceased poet. As a founding member of the Provincetown Players, Glaspell had a distinguished and influential career in the American theater. She turned her attention away from playwriting after the play.

“Alison’s House is a fitting choice for our American season,” says O’Neill. “Glaspell was a contemporary of Eugene O’Neill and Robert Edmund Jones. She brought a feminist perspective to the formative years of serious American theater, and her legacy is something worth examining and re-evaluating with our students and our audiences.

“Alison’s House takes place on December 31, 1899, and ends with ringing in a new century of hope and possibility,” O’Neill adds. “In selecting the play for production, I was struck by the reverberations it has in our own time as we not only are changing centuries, but are entering a new millennium as well.”

Vilas Menon, a sophomore from the Netherlands in his sixth Lafayette College Theater production, plays Eben Stanhope.

“Alison’s House is an excellent portrayal of the differences between successive generations,” Menon says. “The ‘generation gap’ theme is something I find fascinating; there clearly exists an older, more conservative generation, and a younger, more modern generation. The reactions of the different camps towards events are illustrated extremely well throughout the play. A second theme prominent in the play is that of society’s restrictions on love. Several members of the Stanhope family have had or come close to having extra-marital relationships, all of which were strongly frowned upon during the time.”

Eban Stanhope is about 30 years old and finds himself longing for something more in life, Menon explains. “As part of the older generation, he feels constrained by the changing times. He finds himself in a dull job and a loveless marriage, and as he says, he feels ‘like [he] wants something else.'”

Dave Campos, a junior from Rochester, N.Y., plays Richard Knowles. It’s a much diffenent role than he’s played in other Lafayette productions.

“As opposed to playing a self-assured fireman like Tom Patrick in Working, or a stone-faced doctor like Doc Baugh in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I have the privilege to play an upbeat reporter from the big city of Chicago,” he says.

“Richard Knowles is a big city reporter with a small-town passion for poetry. As Knowles, my love of poetry, my intense regard for the late Alison Stanhope’s work, and knowledge that the house is breaking up draws me to the Stanhope family on the last day of the 19th century,” Campos says. “The main challenge surrounding my role is separating my love for the poetry from the responsibility of a Chicago reporter down to get a story about a house being broken up. I have moments of incredible awe for Alison and her work, as well as moments of reporter-like questioning.

“I enjoy playing this character mostly because the method in which Marlena is directing allows for us actors to explore ourselves and experiment with several approaches to the characters we play,” Campos says.

Rosa Pilato, a sophomore from Redding, Conn., plays the role of Elsa. She says the rehearsals have been moments of discovery for her.

“Alison’s House is a play set at the turn of the century, and with reason,” she notes. “It deals with the passing of traditions and morals from one generation to the next, and the audience sees the differences that challenge the Stanhope family. Elsa is shunned by her family after she ran off with a married man, which was unacceptable for any member of an upper class family in those times. However, she is the only character in the family that has followed her path of love. Elsa so devoted to love that social conventions do not restrain her. Overall, it is a play of paradoxes, as the tide of generations wave over the family.”

Lafayette College Theater will conclude its season-long salute to American theater of the last 100 years with American Acts, nine one-act plays presented over three evenings, at 8 p.m., April 27-29, in the Williams Center Black Box. Each play is directed by a Lafayette directing student enrolled in Theater 314.

The cast:

Anne Leslie — Sandy Veresink ’02 (Easton, Pa.); Jennie — Jennifer Cilia ’02 (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.); Richard Knowles — David Campos ’01 (Rochester, N.Y.); Ted Stanhope — W. Alex Walker ’03 (McLean, Va.); Louise — Elizabeth Youngkin ’03 (Easton, Pa.); John Stanhope — Andrew Platt ’01 (West Chester, Pa.); Eben Stanhope — Vilas Menon ’02 (Wassenaar, Netherlands); Elsa Stanhope — Rosaria Pilato ’02 (Redding, Conn.); Miss Agatha — Heather Badamo ’03 (DuBois, Pa.); Hodges — Josh Brodsky ’03 (Needham, Mass.); Mrs. Hodges — Jennifer Allen ’01 (Montvale, N.J.).

Categorized in: Students