Fall Production

Lion in Winter

by James Goldman

October 14-16, 2004
Fine Arts Theatre
Hyman Fine Arts Center
Francis Marion University


It is Christmas 1183 in King Henry II of England’s palace in Chinon, France. Henry is discussing with his mistress, Alais, the upcoming day’s events. Henry’s family will be gathering for the holiday—his wife Eleanor, whom Henry has let out of prison for the occasion, and their three sons, Richard, Geoffrey, and John. Of course, much of the conversation and thought will center around Henry’s successor to the throne. Henry makes it clear that he wants the youngest son, John, to be the next king, while Eleanor wants the oldest, Richard. Henry has also promised the young Prince of France, Philip, that Alais, Philip’s sister, will marry Richard but he also promises Alais she can remain his mistress.

In another room the three sons are already gibing about who will be king, soon joined by their mother, and then by Henry and Alais. Henry then turns the discussion to the matter on everyone’s mind: “Well—what shall we hang? The holly or each other?” Richard insists that he become king because he is the oldest and the most capable. John is sure he will inherit the throne because he is his father’s choice. And Geoffrey, the middle son, feels unappreciated, with no chance at all of the throne. Then the sons and Alais depart, leaving Henry and Eleanor alone.

Much of the remainder of the play is filled with the duplicitous machinations of the various members of the family. At various times Henry courts each son, hoping to advance his agenda through lies and manipulation. Eleanor does the same. At times it is difficult to tell who wants what and what is the truth. The three sons do the same thing, pairing up with each other in various combinations, hoping to get the help of the others. John and Geoffrey at one point even plan a war, with King Philip’s help, to overthrow the plans of Richard and Eleanor and take the kingdom from Henry. At another juncture, Henry insists that Eleanor sign papers giving the Aquitaine, a valuable piece of land in France, to John, virtually guaranteeing his ascension to the throne. Eleanor, however, rebuffs his requests, and the two, once again, are at a stalemate. At one time, even Geoffrey tries to make an alliance with Philip, in his own grab for the throne.

Finally, Henry concocts one final scheme. He has his three sons locked in the wine cellar and plans to send Eleanor back to prison. Then he will go to Rome, force the pope to annul their wedding, and marry Alais. She can then give him more sons, including a new king. Alais says, however, she can’t marry him if the sons are left alive and a danger to her in the future; but Henry refuses to kill his offspring. Eleanor takes daggers to the boys in the dungeon, urging them to run, perhaps killing their father. However, they can’t act either, unwilling to harm their father.

In the end, everything is as it was in the beginning. Eleanor is headed back to prison, the three princes are still squabbling over who shall be king, Alais is caught in the middle, and Henry still has no clear successor.

Synopsis courtesy of www.bard.org.

Experimental Theatre

The University Experimental Theatre Presents:
Student Directed One Act Plays

November 17 & 18, 2004
Fine Arts Theatre
Hyman Fine Arts Center
Francis Marion University

Student Directed One Act Plays

Wednesday, November 17, 7:30 pm:

Wash and Dry – directed by Andrew Cogswell
Funeral Tea – directed by Joey Webster
Tell me another story, sing me a song – directed by Merit Sander

Thursday, November 18, 2004, 7:30 pm:

The Boar – directed by David Sistare
The Devil’s Parole – directed by Vince Triana
Graceland – directed by Melissa Bjorgen

Winter Production

How I Learned to Drive

by Paula Vogel
directed by Robert Brooks

February 24-26, 2005
Fine Arts Theatre
Hyman Fine Arts Center
Francis Marion University


A wildly funny, surprising and devastating tale of survival as seen through the lens of a troubling relationship between a young girl and an older man. HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE is the story of a woman who learns the rules of the road and life from behind the wheel.

Director: Robert Brooks
Asst. Director: Paullet Weaver
Set/Light Design: David Granath
Costume Design: Abby Kiker

Female Chorus: Erin Lamz
Li’l Bit: Aesia Wyatt
Peck: Vincent Triana
Teenage Chorus: Tiffany N. Holmes
Male Chorus: Blake Gardner


Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. Co-winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Co-winner of the 1998 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play.

“Ms Vogel has written a lovely, harrowing guide to the crippling persistence of one woman’s memories.” — NY Times.

“…HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE is a tremendous achievement, genuine and genuinely disturbing…This is, quite simply, the sweetest and most forgiving play ever written about child abuse… Vogel’s delicate tactic makes sense not only as a way to redouble the dramatic effect, but as a representation of reality, a perfect case of the form fitting the subject.” — Village Voice.

“With subtle humor and teasing erotic encounters, Vogel addresses the dangerous intersections of teenage temptation. She also paints a richly poetic and picturesque landscape…The play is a potent and convincing comment on a taboo subject, and its impact sneaks up on its audience.” — Variety.

“…HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE turns out to be a most compelling ride.” — BackStage.

Spring Production

Red Herring

by Michael Hollinger

April 14-16, 2005
Fine Arts Theatre
Hyman Fine Arts Center
Francis Marion University


Three love stories, a murder mystery, and a nuclear espionage plot converge in this noir comedy about marriage and other explosive devices. It’s 1952: America’s on the verge of the H-bomb, Dwight Eisenhower’s on the campaign trail, and I Love Lucy’s on Monday nights. Meanwhile, Senator Joe McCarthy’s daughter just got engaged to a Soviet spy, and Boston detective Maggie Pelletier has to find out who dumped the dead guy in the Harbor—or else lose out on a honeymoon in Havana. A blunt-nosed, sharp-eyed look at love and tying (and untying, and retying) the knot.

“Exceedingly funny. A genuinely human comedy about six people in search of love in a mixed-up world. A thoroughly engaging piece of theatre.” — Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Hilarious. A valentine celebrating love and marriage. A fun, engaging, farcical romp with a cleverly complex plot and a loving heart.” – Main Line Times.

“It’s a knock-out—a surprising, clever comedy that keeps you laughing and even thinking all the way.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Very funny and perceptive…sharp, witty, and entertaining.” — Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.