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Collaboration between faculty member and student bring play to stage

9/23/2002
September 24, 2002

If you want to enjoy an evening of great entertainment and a gourmet dinner while helping raise money for student scholarships, make plans to be at Austin Peay in early October.

The Friends of the Austin Peay Playhouse is holding the sixth annual Theatre Scholarship Benefit Friday, Oct. 4, with wine and hors d'oeuvres served at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. in the Margaret Fort Trahern Theatre.

Following dinner, patrons will enjoy the original production, “Say, Happily Ever After,” with champagne served during intermission.

A creative collaboration between senior theatre major Dale Krupla and David Wesner, assistant professor of theatre, the comedic play explores the question, “If you can't go to a psychiatrist with your unresolved issues, where can you go?”

Krupla, a senior theatre major, was commissioned to write a play for submission as the 2002 entry into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, with Wesner serving as director. Over the summer as they worked on the play, Wesner became a writing partner, too.

The two have a history of collaboration. Wesner's play, “Tennessee Waltz,” was the 2001 Festival entry, with Krupla starring as a main character. Both men received commendations.

“Collaborating is a difficult and delicate balance,” Wesner said. “I've only had one other successful collaboration as a writer. There has to be a clear understanding of who's doing what. In this case, the entire concept was Dale's.

“What I brought to the play was an understanding of dialogue and structure. Together, our efforts really paid off. The script is one I'm very proud to have had a hand in creating.”

Krupla agrees: “I feel my idea and characters have been realized fully. It's a funny play with serious undertones. What I learned about playwriting has been invaluable.”

“Say, Happily Ever After” intrigued Wesner from the beginning. “Dale had the idea of having a psychiatrist whose clients are fairytale characters. I was blown away by the possibilities.”

The plot revolves around two central characters: Will, the psychiatrist, and Jack (in the Beanstalk), who has stolen original manuscripts from a library and rewritten many story endings. The result: Characters who knew what they were “written” to do are confused and unsure of what they are to do in life now.

Speaking of his antagonist, Krupla said, “Jack wants power. He's not satisfied with his life or with his reputation as someone incapable of ‘doing the right thing.' He wants to rewrite himself and other ‘villains' so the world will see them in a different light and respect them.

“As a result, the seven dwarves have become acrobats who cannot remember their names, Cinderella doesn't want to marry the prince and the Fairy Godmother can't control what happens when she waves her magic wand.”

According to Wesner, the story required a large cast of 30 actors, including Erika Arnold, Jimmy Bartruff, Nicholas Black, Paul Braddy, Rebecca Carrico, Jonathan Castille, Teresa Crosslin, Christopher Drinkut, Ellie Ellis, Lee Fleming, Estelle Hatcher, Brooke Hill-McFayden, Sara Hoyal, Geddy Kurtz, Adam Lacy, Marie Lavalley, Rebekah Leech, Brandon Morrison, Pattron Musick, Glen Pafford, Erin Pallesen, Jennifer Price, Austyn Riggs, Dan Scott, Ashley Ward, Tracey Vance, Britt White and Greg Wytiaz.

Cost per person for the dinner and play is $40, with $25 being tax-deductible. All proceeds will benefit the endowed scholarship fund at Austin Peay.

Private tables for eight can be reserved. The deadline for reservations is Monday, Sept. 30.

The play also will be presented at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 2-5 and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6 in Trahern Theatre. Later this fall, the play will move to Chattanooga for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. That event is part of the Tennessee Theatre Association Annual Meeting. Individual awards are offered through the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Tickets will be available starting at 3 p.m., Monday, Sept. 23, at the Creative Arts Ticket Office, music/mass communication building. Admission is $4 for students and $6 for non-students.

For more information about the play, telephone Wesner at 6338. To make reservations for the scholarship benefit, telephone 7378.