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The 77th production of the Christmas play by A.M. Buckton, performed annually by the Campus Players of the Southwestern College theatre department, will be performed in area churches in December and tour England during the 12 Days of Christmas: Dec. 25 through Jan. 7.
Alumni and friends may see the play in area churches early in December. And if they’re up for a holiday adventure, they may join the tour.
Performed since 1932, “Eagerheart” has been a major tradition for not only the Campus Players but for the college and larger community. For many Moundbuilder alumni and friends, the beautiful story and staging of “Eagerheart” have become meaningful parts of the Christmas season.
The area and England tour is a result of the publicity received by the 75th anniversary “Eagerheart” production in 2007, with music performed by the Southwestern A Capella Choir and South Kansas Symphony.
Following the performance, Roger Moon, director of production that year, received an e-mail from administrators of the Chalice Well, a spiritual center in Glastonbury, England. They had been looking online for information about “Eagerheart” and its playwright, A.M. Buckton, who had written the play and first directed it at the Chalice Well early in the 20th century.
“From that communication with England, the current tour has evolved,” said Moon.
“The SC communications department made a DVD to document the 75th annual production because many people who could not see the play live had requested it through the years.
“We have also had requests to perform ‘Eagerheart’ in area churches, so the students have decided this is the time to share the play ‘beyond the hill.’”
The cast is preparing to perform “Eagerheart” this year once on campus for the Christmas chapel, and then to perform the play in as many area churches as possible.
Though SC’s production of “Eagerheart” has always been designed for the stage, the play is being restaged to adapt to any sanctuary, according to Allison Moon, SC theatre professor and director of this year’s production.
“With a few changes, the simple beauty and charm of the play can be shared anywhere,” Moon said.
Any area church that would like to have the Campus Players perform the play this December should contact the college as quickly as possible, as performance slots are beginning to fill.
Late on Christmas day, the Campus Players cast will leave for England where they will tour during the Twelve Days of Christmas. In addition to performing in Glastonbury, the students will play in the Oxford area, Bath, Canterbury and finally in London.
“The play has been performed by the Campus Players and been meaningful to our audiences because of its message inspiring us to serve in Christ’s name,” said Roger Moon.
“We are humbled that we have the chance to carry ‘Eagerheart’ to larger audiences.”
The SC theatre students have taken on the challenge of taking the play on the mission tour, and they need financial help. Productions costs have been kept low, but travel costs are expensive.
“We made the decision that financing the play needs to be the responsibility of the students and people who will help,” said Moon. “Southwestern College is tackling a capital campaign which includes the renovation of Richardson Auditorium, and these are challenging times, so SC has not been asked to finance the students. We pray that the community and alumni will help the students take ‘Eagerheart’ and its message abroad.”
“It has been a blessing to give ‘Eagerheart’ all these years as our gift to the community,” said Brooke Rowzee, senior Campus Player member and CP president, and “now we hope people will be the ‘angels’ and help us take ‘Eagerheart’ to new audiences.”
Anyone wishing to join the students for the trip to England is welcome. In addition to being involved in the production, trip participants will also visit historic and artistic sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, Brighton, Dover and London, including castles, cathedrals and theatres. The tour has been designed for all ages.
The signup deadline is imminent, so those wishing to join the tour should call Roger Moon, 229-6244. A $500 deposit is required by Sept. 25, with the balance due Oct. 25.
To thank the community, alumni, family and friends for their donations which help the students on this mission tour, Campus Players is making DVDs of the 75th annual performance available on the SC campus, at the Walnut Valley Farmers’ Market, at SC sporting events and in many local churches for $20 each. A link for the DVD has been established on the SC Web site, here. Anyone wanting to make a tax-deductible donation can call Roger Moon, 229-6244, or Lou Tharp in the SC performing arts office, 229-6272.
Eagerheart Tour Gallery - Here is a link to the Eagerheart 09' Tour, already a few images from the show have been uploaded so take a look! As the week goes on the gallery will continue to be updated.