A love story, a British sex farce, a modern American classic and a 19th-century tragedy transformed into a contemporary horror story will all play out on the Fort Hays State University stage this year.
"We're trying to grow and trying to become a more recognized and respected and active part of the university," said Michael Hogwood, instructor of communication and director of two of the four major productions in the 2003-2004 FHSU theatre season.
To achieve this goal, Fort Hays State University theatre has scheduled a wide variety of productions.
"We tried to come up with a season that was very eclectic," Hogwood said. "Everytime you come to the theatre you're going to experience something different than what you saw before."
The first production, Grease, will run Oct. 3-5 and Oct. 10-12. It will be directed by Rachel Hogwood, Hays. According to Michael Hogwood, her musical experience and ability to work well with students prompted the department to ask her to direct this production, which was chosen as a way to give both the audience and the actors a good time.
"Grease is something that can be fun for the students to perform and for the audience to watch," said Hogwood.
He added that the familiarity of the production and the music will give the audience an opportunity to participate as well.
The next production, Woyzeck (VOY-check), will begin on Nov. 13 and run through Nov. 16, with Michael Hogwood directing. Hogwood calls this production "the experiment of the season."
The production is actually a restructured version of a play written by Georg Buchner in the 1830s that was based on a true story of a German soldier, Woyzeck, who went insane and killed his wife. Hogwood rewrote the play, called Woyzeck (Transformation), using the same scene structure but reinterpretating the characters and events.
The idea behind Hogwood's version is that Woyzeck is an abused soldier who is now a gravedigger with no identity. The people around him try to turn him into someone who can be used to their own benefit. In the end he has an awakening and retaliates against those who used him.
He said he used many popular horror films as inspiration so that hopefully audience members will be able to identify with it.
Hogwood said that anyone could enjoy this production, excluding small children, due to the nature of the content.
"We are taking a lot of chances with this production, which will either backfire or will get people talking about the theatre again," he said.
Hogwood said that although he is not sure of what the audience's reaction to this production will be, he hopes that the university community will support it and the other productions of the season.
Auditions for Grease and Woyzeck will be Wednesday, Aug. 27, with callbacks on Aug. 28 and 29.
The Voice of the Prairie, the third production, will begin on March 4 and run through March 7 under the direction of Dr. Stephen Shapiro, professor of communication.
This production, written by John Olive in 1986, is a love story about the beginnings of radio. Shapiro said that the production is likely to attract a broad audience.
Casting for The Voice of the Prairie is somewhat different than for other productions.
"There will be six actors that play over a dozen different characters," said Shapiro.
Although the play was originally written to only include three actors, it has evolved over the years.
The final production, Don't Dress for Dinner, will run April 29-May 2. It will be directed by Michael Hogwood.
It is a story about two unfaithful spouses who end up with their lovers in their house at the same time. The plot is comical as they each begin telling lies, getting them deeper and deeper in trouble. To top it all off, the cook shares the same name as the husband's mistress.
"It is a hilarious script that will be performed at breakneck speed and is filled with all sorts of good, clean, dirty fun," said Hogwood. "It is a really fun and energetic script."
Auditions for all productions are open to any FHSU student.
Season ticket prices are $10 for Fort Hays State University students, $15 for non-FHSU students and $22 for adults. They can be purchased after the first day of classes.
Tickets for individual shows are $7 for FHSU students and $8 for adults.
All shows start at 8 p.m. in Felten-Start Theatre.