The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 6, 2001 · Page 25
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 25

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, April 6, 2001
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Page 25
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FRIDAY APRIL 6. 2001 THE SALlKiA JOURNAL WHAT'S HOT / D2 WHAT'S HAPPENING / D3 U2 / D4 SALINA COMMUNITY THEATRE Theatrical evolution Professional actor George Murdock comes home for a role he avoided in the past By AMY SULLIVAN The Salim Journal Every so often, George Murdock's face shows up on television or in the movies. Most of these small character roles are completed in one to eight days. The Salina native can be a lawyer one day and a judge the next. The veteran film and television actor likes the variety Murdock, 70, has increased his workload this month to play Henry Drummond in the Salina Community Theatre's production of "Inherit the Wind." The play looks at whether evolution should be taught in schools and is a fictionalized version of the Scopes trial of 1925. It starts a three-week run April 13. The character and the actor have different goals. Drummond, based on the real-life Clarence Darrow, wants to "stop you bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States," Drummond says in the first scene of the the second act. Drummond and Matthew Harrison Brady, based on the likewise real-life William Jennings Bryan, spar as lawyers in a Dayton, Tenn., courtroom. Drummond defends teacher Bertram Gates for teaching evolution while Brady wants to spread the news of the Bible. "There is only one great truth of the world," Brady says. Reluctant star Murdock had turned down past offers to perform in "Inherit the Wind" and even was reluctant to join his hometown production. "I shied away from it then because I held the play in such high regard," Murdpck said. He saw^^I'feait-performance in New York •shortly after he left Salina and Kansas Wesleyan University in 1954. He believed he had one "Big Daddy" performance left in him for the home folks, he said, so he was thinking about "Gat on a Hot Tin Roof" That play wouldn't fit into this season, said Michael Spicer, theater director. The theater's programs committee instead wanted a "great American" play in line with "To Kill a Mockingbird," which the theater staged last yean The committee chose "Inherit the Wind" partly because of the recent controversy with the Kansas Board of Education regarding evolution. Spicer wanted Murdock for the Drummond role but was unable to convince him. In stepped Jack and Marsha Stewart, longtime friends TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal George Murdock (right), playing Henry Drummond, cross-examines IWatthew Harrison Brady, portrayed by Jack Stewart, during rehearsals for the Salina Community Theatre's production of "Inherit the Wind." The play is based on the Scopes evolution trial of 1925. of Murdock and frequent SGT actors. Murdock, who calls himself a selfish person ("I got out of my marriage after 14 months with no kids and no alimony") wanted to give Jack Stewart the chance to play Drummond. Stewart played the Bible-thumping Brady in the community theater's 1977 production of the play. But Spicer told Murdock he was most suited for Drummond, and it was settled. Stewart will reprise his Brady role. Going on without him After the February auditions, the 21 other cast members began rehearsing without Murdock, who was busy in Hollywood. He was taping a role as a judge in an episode of the CBS series "That's Life" and filming a movie, a comedy titled "Orange County" with Lilly Tomlin, Chevy Chase and Kevin Kline. Working without one of the main actors wasn't easy. Someone read Drummond's lines at the beginning, then a stand-in was used. Spicer told the cast they had to figuratively stitch a suit for Murdock to wear when he arrived. It was Murdock's job to fit into the suit. "They had done so much work before I got here. I can only applaud it," Murdock said. Evening rehearsals aren't enough for him. Murdock and Stewart, who have most of their scenes together, rehearse in the mornings and afternoons. Stewart, Spicer said, is equal to the task of acting with the professional Murdock. Stewart, 72, has acted in more than 60 community theater plays since 1963. Their dedication and talent will give audiences a "well- written, well-acted play," Spicer said. Something to talk about Spicer also hopes the play will inspire discussions. He remembers how the play made him question his upbringing in a conservative community when he saw it at age 12. While the play definitely takes a pro-defense angle, Spicer said it has mass appeal. "I think some of the things Brady says will ring true to people," Spicer said. Brady's belief in the scriptures keeps him motivated to fight for Gates' conviction. Murdock is enjoying the work in Salina and spending time with his sister Anne Scuitte. The rehearsals are coming along well, but the art of acting can never be perfected. "I know that after the last performance I will say, 'Oh dear, why didn't I do that?' " Murdock said. • Reporter Amy Sullivan can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 125. or by email at sjasullivan@salJournal.com. • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 19 and 26; 8 p.m. April 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28; and 2 p.m. April 22 and 29. • WHERE: Salina Community Theatre, 303 E. iron • TICKETS: On sale IVIonday at the theater or call 827-3033 or 1-877414-2367. Tickets cost $13 for adults and $10 for students. Senior citizens pay $10 on Thursdays. KANSAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY Christian artists explore spirituality in new show First national exhibit in recent years at Wesleyan features emerging artists By SHARON MONTAGUE The Salina Journal It's the sound of water bubbling in the cooler as you draw a fresh glass. It could be one of those tapes you buy, guaranteeing a more restful sleep. At first, it seems to be background music, a pleasant, soothing sound. Then, you're drawn to the source — a stark, black television, a videocassette recorder. The sounds come from a man who is constrained in a straightjacket and submerged in a pool. He surfaces periodically, sometimes calmly, sometimes kicking his legs and fighting for a gulp of life-saving air. The work of art — titled "The Pool" — is one of 37 pieces from emerging artists featured in "Ignite," a month- long exhibit at The Gallery at Kansas Wesleyan University The exhibit was curated by the organization Christians in the Visual Arts and was brought to Salina with the help of a Horizons grant. Brad Anderson, chairman of the Wesleyan art department, said it's the first national art exhibit to be featured at the gallery in many years. "It was a natural growth for our program," Anderson said. "Wefocus a lot "Some of the artists are struggling with their faith walk, and others are searching their own lives with relation to their spiritual lives." Brad Anderson Kansas Wesleyan University art department ctiairman on local and area artists." It also is the first exhibit at the university of Christian works. Anderson said Christian subject matter was not a prerequisite for selection. Rather, work was selected that stemmed from either a Christian worldview or an interest in Christian perspectives. "Some of the artists are struggling with their faith walk, and others are searching their own lives with relation to their spiritual lives," Anderson said. Paintings and more The exhibit offers students and community members the opportunity to see art from a variety of media — including the video as well as lithographs, oil paintings, mixed media, sculpture, drawing, photography and TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal Eric Marsliaii (second from left), head of tlie theater department at Kansas Wesleyan University, and students from a drama class view the new exhibit "Ignite" in The Gallery at Wesleyan. computer graphics. "We haven't seen a lot of work with video around here or seen the regional influences," Anderson said. People who wish to learn more about the artists and their works can read artist biographies and artist statements, which are in a notebook near the entrance to the gallery Each piece also includes a title — but An­ derson said it might be best to experience the work before looking at the title. See EXHIBIT, Page D4 SUGGESTIONS? CALL ALAN STOLFUS, ENCORE! EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjastolfus@saljournal.com

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