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'The Shadow Box' at McPherson College Theatre Tackles Tough Topic of Death

posted Apr 04, 2012 in CAMPUS EVENTS

Emily Donell, senior, Wichita, Kan., and Langston Rhynes, junior, Garland, Texas, rehearse for “The Shadow Box”.
On the surface, “The Shadow Box” at McPherson College is a play about death.
But going deeper, the message is that death is a part of life and to hold on to what is good in living.

Emily Donell, senior, Wichita, Kan., selected the play as her senior project in acting and costume design to have the experience of a dramatic role. She hopes audiences will walk away with a message they can use in their lives.

“Just don’t take things for granted and enjoy the simple things, the little things,” she said. “Because those will get you through everyday life.”

“The Shadow Box” will be performed April 12, 13 and 14 starting at 7:30 p.m. in Mingenback Theatre. The play received the Tony Award for best play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1977. It follows three terminally ill patients in a hospice, being interviewed about their experience of dying, as well as people who are close to the patients. With the interviewer unseen during the show, each character speaks directly into the audience, as if they were the interviewer.

Jd. Bowman, associate professor of theatre and director of the play, said the subject matter would be challenging to audiences, but should provoke thought and conversation afterward.

“The show is about death, specifically about loss and mourning,” he said. “So the challenge is in selling the themes to a society who primarily like to avoid thinking about the darker themes.”

Donell said the show all comes together for her at the end, when all of the characters voices blend quickly one after the other into a gorgeous, poetic scene that lifts up both the beauty and fragility of life. With a friend who died several years ago, Donell said the words struck home with meaning for her.

“It’s heavy, but it keeps pushing for hope,” Donell said. “It ends with an uplifting message.”

Tickets to all shows cost $5 for adults and $3.50 for children ages high school and younger as well as seniors. Seating is limited for this show, so early reservations are recommended and may be made by contacting the theatre box office at 620-242-0444 or at

In addition to Donell, the cast of “The Shadow Box” includes Langston Rhynes, junior, Garland, Texas; Stephanie Johannes, senior, Salina, Kan.; Michelle Wilde, senior, McPherson, Kan.; Justin Biegger, junior, Fuquay Varina, N.C.; Devon Rutledge, freshman, Wichita, Kan. and Kenyatta Harden, junior, McPherson, Kan. Eric Gaeddart, a 13-year-old from McPherson, Kan., is also part of the cast.

Crew includes Mark Dowdy, senior, Huntingdon, Pa., lights; Kristie Gutierrez, sophomore, Quinter, Kan., sound; Dr. Rick Tyler, professor of speech and theatre, set; Rhynes, props; and Ethan Quinn, sophomore, Muskegon, Mich., stage manager.

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