Theater department starts new season with horror

Ryan Schisler, senior from Owensboro, Ky., rehearses in “Woman in Black” as old Arthur Kipps in preparation for the weekend audience. || Tara Martin/The News

Ryan Schisler, senior from Owensboro, Ky., rehearses in “Woman in Black” as old Arthur Kipps in preparation for the weekend audience. || Tara Martin/The News

The theater department is giving students a chance to get an early glimpse of dark mystery and horror before Halloween approaches.

Lissa Graham-Schneider, associate theatre professor, loves horror and ghost stories and welcomed the opportunity to direct “Woman in Black.”

“(The show) is basically two men and they play multiple characters; one of the men is an actor playing the part of the other man and then the other man plays all the other characters who were there when he experienced the haunting from the woman in black,” Graham-Schneider said.

The cast has been rehearsing for four and a half weeks.

“It’s a really complicated show so it’s a real testament to these actors that have learned all of this and made this into what they’ve made it into,” she said.

The play has some scenic elements and will have quite a bit of action and interaction with the audience. There is an extension to the Robert E. Johnson Theatre stage that comes out and goes through the audience and an aisle was completely taken out so the characters can go back and forth through the audience.

“The entire set or scenic element completely surrounds the audience so there’s something to see no matter where you look in this show,” she said.

The play tells a story without complicated or complex set pieces and mostly uses blocks, a table and scraps that the characters find in an abandoned theater.

“I think this show is a supernatural show obviously because there is a ghost or they talk about a ghost anyway, but I feel like this show is about magic, the magic of theatre specifically,” she said. “You can have very few things and yet through your imagination and through your craft you can make an entire environment and make it another world.”

The cast consists of three characters that provide some advantages to all players involved. Ryan Schisler, Brad Rogers and Nathaniel Davis make up the cast.

“I get to spend a lot of time with them; we bonded really fast. We bonded easily; this cast really likes each other and I like them and we get along really well with the crew and the staff,” Graham-Schneider said. “You really get to do in-depth character work that you don’t get to do as much with 20 or 30 people in it.”

Ryan Schisler, senior from Owensboro, Ky., really liked this show after reading the play in his directing class and seeing the movie.

“I’ve never been in a straight show before because I’ve done musical theatre mostly and this was finally that first chance for me to actually be in a straight show,” he said. “This was the one I wanted to do more than anything and I thought it’s my senior year and this would be a great way to go out with a bang.”

Graham-Schneider wants the audience to be frightened during the show and leave the theater having had scary fun.

“People like to be scared. It’s fun, but it’s also safe. It’s a safe kind of fun; it’s roller coasters, so I want to give them that roller coaster ride of a horror movie,” she said.

“Woman in Black” began Thursday night and continues today at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday ­­at 2:30 p.m. It is located in Robert E. Johnson Theatre.

Story by Dominique Duarte, Contributing writer