‘Core of Temptation’

Alex Bullock

Theater students work with award-winning playwright to produce play

When Wichita State music theater major Jennie Hughes applied to be a student director for an upcoming theater production, she wasn’t expecting to have the opportunity to craft an original work with the playwright.

For a year now, Hughes and fellow students have been bringing the work of Danielle Hartman to life in “Core of Temptation.”

Wichita State’s School of Performing Art’s Second Stage Theatre will present “Core of Temptation” this weekend. As a new take on the creation story, “Core of Temptation” is from the perspective of God and his angles. In the play, God and his angel, Lucy, fight about humanity and creation.

Performances started Wednesday and will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday though Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Welsbacher Theatre at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex.

The production is part of the theatre program’s student-produced Second Stage series.

Hartman is a graduate of Christopher Newport University. She is now completing her M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in Theatre Pedagogy.

Her script for “Core of Temptation” won last year’s National Playwriting Competition, which is sponsored by WSU’s theatre program.

Undergraduate and graduate students from around the country submit their scripts and a committee made up of faculty and students from WSU’s School of Performing Arts chooses a winner.

The winning script is turned into a production at WSU, and the students of Second Stage are responsible for its production.

“It gives students the opportunity to do original work, in its whole process,” said Bret Jones, theatre program director.

Hughes, who is directing “Core of Temptation,” said she has been able to work closely with Hartman throughout preparation for the production using Skype and email.

“Having the experience working one on one with a playwright and creating something original is incredible,” she said.

Hartman and the cast and crew have worked together and made improvements as needed.

“It helps the playwright to learn the process of producing an original play, and it helps the actors a lot by being able to work on original content,” said Allison Claye, junior theater major and production crew member.

Danette Baker, publicity coordinator and professor at the School of Performing Arts, said this opportunity is unique because students are able to work with the ideas and stories of their own generation.

“It is good for students to work with material that is still developing,” she said.

Jessica Curtiss, who plays the role of Lucy, said she has enjoyed seeing her character grow and change.

It’s also rewarding to see everything she learns in class come to life, she said.

“I was able to talk to [Hartman] about why Lucy is the way she is and get more insight on how to portray her,” Curtiss said.

Although it has been a challenge, Hughes said this experience sets her apart from others in her field.

“We get the chance to create something totally authentic, and she gets the chance to see her work come to life,” she said. “It’s a really cool experience.”

If you go:

“Core of Temptation”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Welsbacher Theatre