Theatre Department to Explore Grief and Loss

Posted on November 12th, 2015 by Emily Tomlinson

By Victoria Rackliff, interngillian_poster

Love, loss, grief – feelings we all face at some point in our lives. On Nov. 19-21 the theatre department will explore these feelings during the two-act play “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday.” Written by Michael Brady and directed by Averett Theatre Professor Jackie Finney the play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. in Pritchett Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 for adults or $8 for students/senior citizens.

According to Finney, the play was selected to challenge the actors and the audience, as well as to be a dramatic piece compared to the other performances of the season. The story takes place in the present on the shore side of a beach house owned by David, played by Ja’Corey Jones, who is struggling to deal with the death of his wife, Gillian.

“This is a man who is trying to piece his life back together after he lost the love of his life,” Jones, a junior from Baltimore, Md. said about his character. “I’m sure there are many people who can relate to loosing someone close to them.”

Erica Englehart, a sophomore from Richmond, plays David and Gillian’s 16-year-old daughter, Rachel. In the two years since her mother’s death she has struggled to relate to her disconnected father.

“Rachel is trying hard to be a rock for David and help him move on, even though she misses her mother too,” Englehart said. “She relies on other relatives, like her Aunt Esther and Uncle Paul, to be fill in parents for her while David is going through his hard time.”

Esther, played by Allyson Dodson, and Paul, played by Corey Thompson, are David’s in-laws. The entire play occurs during the last weekend in August, when Esther and Paul visit with their friend Kevin, who is played by Karin Epperson.

“The role she plays in the story is an adviser,” Epperson, a senior from southern Maryland, said about Kevin. “She is an upbeat character and a good listener to others.”

Kevin’s part in the tale is also set up as a potential love interest, even though David is still haunted by the presence of Gillian. Erin Ballard, a freshman from Danville, will be playing the role.

“Instead of moving on with his life and his family, he talks to Gillian, conjuring her memory to ease his pain,” Ballard said.