Seats full for The Dining Room

Dr. Jim Lile rehearsing for The Dining Room, now playing at Walton Black Box Theatre.

Kristin Wilfing

Dr. Jim Lile rehearsing for The Dining Room, now playing at Walton Black Box Theatre.

Rebecca Watts

Eighteen actors give Southern Theatre patrons a glimpse of a “vanishing breed” in A.J. Gurney’s The Dining Room. The show will be running through Saturday in the Black Box theatre.

This play brings out the significance of such a simple location; where serious and ridiculous conversations transpire to demonstrate how times have changed.

With the round Black Box setting and the faculty involvement, the production has a feel not present since the 1980s.

“I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never been in one [Black Box Theatre] before,” said Evan Thomas, freshman undecided major.

When some students arrived, they had to be redirected from the auditorium to the Black Box.

“That’s where I was going to go, and then nobody was walking in there, so we just followed the crowd,” said Sam Sebo, freshman business major.

Audience members approved of the setting in the Black Box as well as actors using the same entrances as the audience.

“This is the first play I’ve been to that my granddaughter has been in where I can actually hear what’s going on,” said Richard Hoofnagle.

Some playgoers drove from distances as far away as Bartlesville, Okla., and southern Texas.

“They’re doing a marvelous job, and all of the expressions and everything are really good,” Gloria Hoofnagle said.

Among Hoofnagle supporters was Southern alumnus Steve Evans.

The 1980 graduate was a part of the first group who used the current Taylor Auditorium.

“I’m just thrilled this interest is still going on. I’m glad to see the next generation continue this on,” he said.

Ben Horine, senior theatre major, designed the set and is pleased with the results.

He said the faculty and students collaborated well, making the show a success.

“They [the audience] really responded to it, even more than I expected,” Horine said. “They just really got into the comedy, and you could tell in the silence during the drama.”

According to Evans, the small, four-angle setting creates an intimate relationship between the actors and the audience. Sarah Jones, junior speech communication major, said she enjoyed performing in the different experience.

“It’s so weird kissing one of your professors on stage, but it also makes you very versatile as an actor,” she said. “They [the faculty] are just so fun to work with.”

Student actors, such as Zack Self, sophomore theatre major, try to bring something different to the stage every performance.

“I try to make every performance better, I don’t want to put myself into the same positions. I always want to progress,” he said.

The Dining Room made both actors and audience members recommend others to share the experience.

“I love this show,” said Jones, “I only have great things to say about it.”