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‘August: Osage County’ on Stage at Southwestern; On Film in Oklahoma

The Southwestern College Theatre department is beginning final preparation for their fall semester show, to be presented Nov. 15-17 in Richardson Performing Arts Center. “August: Osage County” was written by Tracy Letts and will be directed by Roger Moon.

“August: Osage County” is the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning dark comedy about a family that comes together at the time of tragedy to face the relationships and realities of generational abuse in their extremely dysfunctional family. Each character contributes to the madness within the family. Because of the nature of the play, children under age 17 will not be admitted.

It was announced that filming for a Hollywood movie of “August: Osage County” has recently begun in Bartlesville, Okla. Cast members in the movie include Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Ewan McGregor. It is estimated that the movie will earn over $25 million at the box office. Filming began in late September of this year, and the movie is expected to come out in theatres in late 2013.

Southwestern College is the first to do this production in the region. 

“The SC theatre department’s goal is to provide our students with the highest quality opportunities in theatre studies,” said Moon. “We give our students the opportunity to study and create comedies and dramas, classics and contemporary plays. This is an extraordinary contemporary drama created by Letts, who was raised in Pawhuska, Okla., and set his play there, only a few miles from Kansas and us.  Not only do our students deserve the opportunity to work on such fine pieces of theatre, our audiences also deserve the chance to see and experience them.”

The cast includes Arden Moon as Violet, (played in the movie by Meryl Streep); Cooper Hart, playing her oldest daughter, Barbara, (played in the movie by Julia Roberts); and Aron Pfingsten as Barbara’s husband, Bill, (played in the movie by Ewan McGregor).  Other SC cast members include Eric Denning as Violet’s husband, Beverly; Sydney Anderson as Jean, Barbara and Bill’s daughter; Julia Faust as Mattie Fae, Violet’s sister; Zenas Lopez as Charlie, Mattie Fae’s husband; Stephen Stogner as their son, Little Charles; Juliette Lowrance and Lisa Prater as Barbara’s younger sisters, Karen and Ivy; Zachary Birkes as Steve, Karen’s fiancé; Jake Heronemus as Deon Gilbeau, the local sheriff; and Nikia Smith as Johnna Monevata, the Cherokee housekeeper hired to take care of Violet.

“This play is extremely dark, even though it is often funny,” said Moon.  “Because of the strong content and language, it is not for children of any age.  If it were a movie, it would rate in the NC17 category. It is brilliant in its observations about the contemporary struggle of many American families and our culture.”

“The script contains a lot of controversial issues,” Zachary Birkes (Steve) says. “When watching the show, it could possibly clash with your own beliefs.”

Nonetheless, Lisa Prater (Ivy Weston) feels this show is believable.

“It’s a realistic family. They have issues,” Prater says.  “They have so many issues that affect all of the relationships it could make you feel better about your family.”

For tickets or information, call the Southwestern College box office at (620) 221-7720 or (620) 229-6171. You can also visit their website at www.sckans.edu/theatre.