Northwest Theater Presents "Love Letters"

Dr. Theo Ross, professor of theatre at Northwest Missouri State University, directed and performed with professional actress Kathleen Warfel in “Love Letters” valentines day weekend.

“Love Letters” demonstrated the hard work of both professionals and students through the play.

The two-person play, which told the story of two friends through the series of letters they sent to each other throughout their lives, was directed by theater professor Theophil Ross. Ross also starred in the play, alongside guest artist Kathleen Warfel.

Though the play was meant to be performed by only two people, several students helped behind the scenes to make sure everything went smoothly. Most agreed that adjusting to the equity rules within Warfel’s contract was a challenge at first.

Theater performance major Emmalee Shields discussed the difficulties of the equity rules.

“The equity rules were hard to get used to,” Shields said. “We had to have very specific break times for Kathleen, instead of just breaking whenever we felt, like when we work with student actors.”

Warfel understood, and helped everyone adjust.

Despite some small difficulties, junior and theater performance major Payton Thompson enjoyed spending time with Warfel.

“I really enjoyed Kathleen,” Thompson said. “She was really nice, funny and good at helping us understand the equity rules.”

Though working with an actor under contract could be confusing at times, it also helped cut back on the time the crew would normally work on a play.

“Altogether, we spent maybe 48-50 hours on rehearsals,” Thompson said. “It usually takes longer. The fact that this was a reader’s theater, and that the actors were professionals with experience, helped streamline the process.”

The rehearsal times themselves were another hurdle for the crew.

“We’re used to rehearsals that take place in the evening,” Shields said. “It was kind of frustrating having to work around my class schedule to fit rehearsal times in.”

Overall, everyone was confident in how the play turned out. Josh Munden, a junior majoring in technical theater, worked as the assistant tech director for “Love Letters.”

“Everyone exceeded expectations on this performance,” Munden said. “I never had to leave my booth and make corrections.”

Ross was pleased with both how the play turned out and the students’ work in putting the show together.

“I enjoyed being able to perform again, myself, and with someone else on stage,” Ross says. “I also enjoyed getting to work with Kathleen. She’s a very skilled and accomplished performer, so it was an interesting experience.”

Unlike most plays, “Love Letters” fell under the category of Reader’s Theater, in which literary works not usually written for dramatic performance are read to the audience.

Ross changed up this concept a little to make things more interesting for the audience. He added a desk to the stage as a sort of miniature scene, where he and Warfel moved to interact with the environment during the end of the play.

“Script is really just a bunch of letters that, most of the time, are read by two actors side by side. I wanted to do a little more than that,” Ross said. “My concept went from traditional Reader’s Theater to the presentational world with the desk. I’m pleased with that. People thought it was interesting whether they understood it or not.”

Ross also said the general atmosphere of the stage helped with the feel of the performance.

“Pat Immel’s lighting was very effective,” Ross said. “Except for the light, you don’t see a whole lot on the stage.”

Due to how little resources and time had to be reserved for “Love Letters,” the theater department can now focus on its production of “Macbeth.”

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