Lee Theatre to open student-directed production of "Talley's Folly"

Lee Theatre to open student-directed production of "Talley's Folly"

Scott Rust and Emma Riley (pictured) play the two characters of Talley's Folly, a student-directed production premiering Friday, Sept. 28.

Courtesy of Zac Beatty

Lee Theatre will kick off its fall season with Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly,” a romantic and contemplative play set in 1940’s Missouri.

Senior music and theatre double major Anna Marie Brendel is directing the play, under the guidance of Associate Professor of Theatre Christine Williams. Brendel said having near free rein has challenged her and allowed her to grow in her skills.

“As a student director, I’ve really appreciated how much artistic freedom I’ve been given,” Brendel said. “[Williams] is intentionally not feeding me a plethora of ideas so that I can learn how to use my own creativity and my own thoughts. It’s a great experience for me as a student to be learning under her.”

Brendel also said the challenges of creative freedom—citing her roles of final decision maker, artistic visionary, and rehearsal organizer and leader—are difficult yet rewarding.    

“When things get quiet and a decision has to be made, it falls on me, and that is a pretty tall order,” Brendel said. “But it is an encouraging and revitalizing thing. It is draining, but it is a positive thing when it is something you enjoy and something that brings you life.”

Brendel said she wanted to give credit where it was due. She expressed her thankfulness for the help and hard work of Williams, stage manager and senior theater major Zac Beatty, the two cast members and the many people involved in costuming, set design, set construction and lighting.

The two-person cast consists of senior theatre major Scott Rust and junior theatre major Emma Riley.

Rust plays 44-year-old Jewish accountant Matt Friedman, and Riley plays 31-year-old nurse Sally Talley. The play itself narrates a conversation between the two characters at a boathouse, where the two fell in love the year before. But the characters’ deep secrets and struggles make the conversation difficult.

Due to the frustrations and problems the characters face as they try to connect, Rust said communication is a major theme of the show.

“People don’t communicate well. People don’t really understand one another because, while you and I are having this conversation, I am also thinking about the paper I’m still writing and what’s due for Tuesday, and you’re probably thinking about getting this article written or what’s going to be for dinner,” Rust said. “We can’t have real communication and connection because people are caught up in their own little worlds. Matt and Sally are both very private people, and you have to really crack the shell to figure out who they are. Real communication requires real vulnerability.”

Riley said she agreed that the show centers around communication, or lack thereof, among other relational and historical themes. She said the show contains elements of war, separation and fear, but also elements of love, connection and trust.

Rust and Riley both expressed a high level of praise for Brendel. Despite the show’s simple concept and minimal cast, the actors said they wanted to acknowledge the play’s complexity, commending Brendel for bringing the script to life.

Performances of “Talley’s Folly” are Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 4-6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Buzz Oates Theatre. Tickets are available at the box office in the Communication Arts building and are free for Lee students, $10 for adults, and $7 for children, non-Lee students and seniors.

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