An inside scoop on the delicious ingredients of the Regent University Theatre first hit of the 2015-2016 season!
The first show of the season at Regent University is Brownie Points by Janece Shaffer, directed by Marianne Savell. The play centers around five moms who have gathered their girls for a camping trip. While on the trip they discover if friendship will prevail when they clash over race, religion, and motherhood. This production is a great piece to start off the season, because it is an all female show. I note this because most theatrical experience are very male-centered pieces. However Ms. Shaffer, the Atlanta-based playwright, is very passionate about telling women’s stories. These five women represent a wide variety of women. I have sat down with the Head of the MFA in Acting Program and director Marianne Savell, and the two thesis actors Bretteney Beverley who is playing Deidre, and Bri Lindsey who is playing Allison.
What attracted you to the story of Brownie Points?
Marianne: I’ve known about this play for a few years and felt like it was a good play for women and it addresses huge issue in America right now, racism. In choosing the season for this year this play was overwhelmingly approved by the faculty for those reasons and the opportunity to do a relatively new play. I met the playwright through Karen Lund of Taproot Theatre in Seattle. They were doing Brownie Points and so Janece and I became acquainted. At the time I thought the play would be a really fun show to do because of the all-female cast. I still feel that it is a special show for women to do together, but now the show has much more meaning to me with the national conversation going on right now about race. We need this play right now…more than ever.
What excites you about this production of Brownie Points?
Bri: Sharing this story excites me. With all that is going on in out nation we need this story to start conversations.
Bretteney: I love the fact that you are doing a contemporary story that is very new in development. We have a playwright that writes about what interests her in the daily struggles of life today. I love the topics that we discuss in this play.
What about your characters have been similar and contrasting to you as a person?
Bretteney: I can identify with Deidre’s strength. She understands where she came from and where shes going, which I strongly relate to being a young woman. However like most people, Deidre has allowed her past experiences to change her outlook on life and shape how she interacts with people. She has become jaded and narrowed her perspective.
Bri: I can be organized and always on the go as Allison is, but not for the same reasons. Allison has a disabled child, and I had an uncle with Down’s syndrome, who my mom moved in and took care of the last 12 years of his life. During this process I struggled with how naive Allison is with race and how her actions affect people.
How is it working in a all female cast.?
Marianne: This process has been a huge blessing. As a group we’ve come together with a strong passion to give our audience a chance to have a much needed conversation. We believe very strongly that we all need to be willing to understand that there are things we don’t know about our own hearts in terms of race and be willing to learn and change. I’ve had the privilege of acting and directing in quite a few all female plays. There is a freedom and a joy when women come together to tell a story. We are so used to women supporting men in story and it’s great to experience a story from a woman’s perspective.
Bri: This all female cast has been great! We started with a trusting, open environment to discuss issues in the play and have continued to grow in friendship as we worked in this process.
Bretteney: I love the sensitivity that we bring to the material. Although none of us are mothers, all of us were willing to commit fully to the emotions. That comes with trust and support from one another.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this show?
Bretteney: I hope that this show starts a dialogue about things that are uncomfortable and raise awareness, instead of ignoring the issues that plague our country. We should strive to be better people and humanitarians.
Bri: Everyone has a story and though we may not be able to literally walk in each other’s shoes, we can actually listen and try to empathize. Everyone’s story matters.
Name a favorite moment during the show that you can’t wait for the audience to see?
Bri: There is a scene between Allison and Nicole where Allison’s asks some extremely naive questions. I think this is a beautiful moment showing that friends can disagree and not always understand each other, but because there is a friendship they can work through it. Even when one characters is clueless to the other’s life experiences.
Bretteney: The moment that Jamie and Deirdre look outside themselves and find the connection between them as woman.
Marianne: There are a couple of moments in the play that I think the audience are going to be on the edge of their seats. I don’t want to give them away…folks are just going to have to come see.
Brownie Points is running September 18th-20th. Come out and support our talented arts community!
Rakeem Lawrence is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Runner.