Southern theatre sets precedent

Bethany Lansaw, senior secondary education speech and theatre major (right), and Michael Runion, junior theatre major, will perform in Faena which opens 7

30 p.m. Tuesday in the Black Box Theatre and runs through Oct. 15. The play is in conjuction with the Mexico Semester.

Bethany Lansaw, senior secondary education speech and theatre major (right), and Michael Runion, junior theatre major, will perform in Faena which opens 7

Nate Billings

When the bull is finally killed at the end of a bull fight, it is called faena.

However, in a play coming to the Missouri Southern Theatre, Faena is the name of a young woman wanting to become a matador. Faena is also the name of the play.

Bethany Lansaw, senior secondary speech communications and theater education major, plays the part of Faena.

“It’s about a girl who lost her parents,” Lansaw said. “Women aren’t allowed to be in a man’s role, and I’ve got to prove myself.”

The play takes place in 1940s Mexico. There is no specific town or location, but all scenes are portrayed in the same area on stage.

“It’s a suggestive realism,” said Melissa Rutledge, senior theatre major and stage manager.

Rutledge said the audience should not expect the same type of settings as in other plays.

She said the audience members should come with a, “suspended disbelief.”

The play is directed by Dr. Jim Lile, assistant professor of theatre.

Lile chose the play for several reasons, but one reason stands out more than the others. He knows the playwright, Guillermo DeLeon, personally. Lile met DeLeon while working at Texas A&M.

“It’s a kind of happy intersection of him and me and the Mexico semester,” Lile said.

He said the production is the first time this particular play has been seen by an audience.

This caused a few difficulties in the production. The playwright changed the script twice during production.

“It’s new so we expected to have these kind of changes,” Lile said.

Lile said the work poses several things for the audience members.

“It’s a play that is rooted in the Hispanic culture,” he said. “I think it shows the possible intersections of the traditions and experiences and the way the past can inform the present. It’s also a very enjoyable piece of theater.”

Several aspects of the work revolve around traditional dances, movements and rituals. One aspect of the play pivots on this interaction of different physical attributes.

Matt Davidson, junior theatre and English major, portrays the personification of a bull with his character El Toro.

“It’s always harder to play an animal,” he said. “Modern day thinking is about being, not imitating. You can’t see the mind of a bull.”

Davidson said he is not a specific bull, but rather the personification of all bulls.

His costume consists of a shield with a bull’s head on it.

“It’s a bit of a challenge,” Davidson said. “He simply is.”

The story begins with a young girl and her family. Her mother dies and her father is killed by a bull. Throughout her life, Faena pulls herself to the bull-fighting ring, overcoming those who try to keep her out.

Michael Runion, junior theatre major, plays Santiago, the antagonist in the play.

“I don’t want her to be there,” Runion said. “I want to put her in her place. She shouldn’t be there.”

Though Santiago wants Faena to leave the ring, he longs to have her as his own.

“Her destiny is thrown into the typical woman’s place – in the household,” Rutledge said.

Because it is the first time this play has seen production, the cast members have no precedent to go on.

“We’re excited by the quality of the play,” Lile said. “The students are terrific here. They have a willing spirit. And, just the fun of doing a new work with them, it’s a very pleasant experience.”

DeLeon will be on hand to oversee the production and last-minute scripting during the week.

Gerrie-Ellen Johnston directed the choreography.

The play runs at 7:30 p.m. each night from Tuesday through Saturday in the Black Box Theatre.