The Department of Theatre and New Dance debuted the two-weekend run of “Bee-Luther-Hatchee” on Thursday Nov. 8 in the Studio Theatre. The play was directed by theater professor Michael Kachingwe.

Kachingwe, as director, wanted the audience to take part in the journey involving both Burns and Price. The train set was the major piece of the entire play that helped bring the audience into the story, and it also brought the story to life in which Price would read out loud to the audience while Burns was reading the book.

The biggest challenge was seeing what circumstances were presented before going deeper into each character and how it was to be presented during rehearsals and the final project.

“We tried to figure out the set of circumstances for each character and once we accepted them, it was time to go into the objective of involving the audience,” Kachingwe said.

The play begins with Shelita Burns, played by transfer student Roslynn Glasco. Burns is a Princeton-educated publisher who accepts an award on behalf of Libby Price, a 72-year-old isolated African American woman she has never met and who wrote “Bee-Luther-Hatchee.” She keeps in contact with her through various letters and finds a return address for an elderly residence home.

Roslynn Glasco as Shelita Burns, a Princeton-educated publisher who accepts an award on behalf of Libby Price. (Courtesy of the Department of Theatre and New Dance)

Burns arrives at the residence for the elderly to find Price, but no one by that name lives there. As a final resort, she contacts Price by mail and arranges to meet in a cafe. However, she is astonished to find out the person who wrote “Bee-Luther-Hatchee” is neither black nor female.

The mysterious Price is shown to truly be a bearded white man by the name of Sean Leonard, played by fourth-year theater student, Chase Atherton.

The second half of the play focused on Burns and Leonard discussing the book with Burns, threatening to expose Leonard to the press for going under the name of Libby Price. The revelation ignites conflict based on the racial divide and Burns feels betrayed by who really wrote the book.

Fifth-year theater student Meron Ashenafi, who plays Libby Price, said the production process was very stressful since there was a limited time to assemble everything.

“We only had four weeks to put everything together so each minute counted … I’ll admit it was stressful but it was so much fun because I was doing something I love,” Ashenafi said.

This was Ashenafi’s first time working with Kachingwe and something she found interesting was focusing on one aspect at a time, and it let her work with a clear head.

Fourth-year theater student, Samantha Avila, who played both Anna and Sister Margaret, had the challenge of playing two characters but was able to find the balance between the two.

“It was hard, but Kachingwe helped me find the different dynamics in each one … and working with him has been rewarding equally or if even more fulfilling,” Avila said. “Chase Atherton and I worked with him last year and we were so excited to collaborate together again.”

Sean Leonard, played by Chase Atherton (left), is approached by Shelita Burns, played by Roslyn Glasco (right). (Courtesy of the Department of Theatre and New Dance)

For Kachingwe, this opportunity was very rewarding and gave not only himself but the entire cast a chance to grow from start to finish.

“It gave us all the opportunity to work differently than what we’re normally used to and I loved working with such a wonderful cast — they did an amazing job,” Kachingwe said.

He is excited for everyone to go see the final play of the semester and hopes everyone will enjoy it just as much as he does.

The show will run at 8 p.m. Nov. 15, 16 and 17, with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Nov. 18. Students can purchase tickets through the Department of Theatre and New Dance website at classcsupomona.tix.com.

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