By Devin Button
Greenville, Pa (November 21, 2019) — Over the weekend of November 15th, “indecency” was the theme on the Thiel College campus. The Robinson Theater’s Thiel Players brought to life, “Gross Indecency” — the three trials of Oscar Wilde was on full display for students and staff alike.
The dialogue-heavy play was challenging to pull off – as well as tackling a difficult subject – homophobia and its devastating effect on the great English writer’s life and work. The show itself was a critical display of its text, and not surprisingly had a bit of controversy that was held in good graces from many of its audience.
Many aspects of the performance were done with precision and wit. With it’s over two-hour run time (the longest production to date for Dr. Pete Rydberg and Thiel Players) the challenge was set.
Starting rehearsals on the first week of class this fall semester, the amount of determination and effort on the part of cast and crew are seen throughout this production.
Well-acted, the dialogue-rich play kept audience attention through staging and character movement. While the language style differences of late 109h Century English, along with sometimes-complicated British legal-ease could make this play difficult to follow – the frequent moving about the stage, pedestal blocks, and sparse set brought interest and focus to the production.
As a liberal arts college, Thiel gives students (who may not normally be involved with theater) the opportunity to experience a class that requires students to work in the theater — preparing the set, operating technology or staging for each major production. These opportunities broaden horizons and possibly brings new fans to the art of theater and live performance art.
Following the production, Thielensian reporters spoke with Dr. Rydberg, who said, “Getting more than 40 students involved in the production – including many first years is a fun challenge” Rydberg added, “I think that students grew as artists, and we managed to finally have costumes on everyone.”
When asked about some things that can be considered cons after the show, Rydberg said. “I went way over my costume budget. There should be both more funding for the arts generally to provide more artistic experiences and (my dream) a theatre BA at Thiel.”
After this production, Thiel College is losing a veteran player on our stage, Keenan Weimer, who will be graduating this December and stepping away from a stage he called home for many years. When asking Rydberg “what will you do now?” he replied “I get some actual sleep!” He then laughed and said, “Psych, just kidding! I have Christmas Festival coming up! Everyone should attend 4 pm December 8th.”
There may have been some “indecency” on Thiel’s campus last weekend, but all for a good cause and wonderful production that shines a glaring light on the effects of homophobia on people – even famous people. Gross Indecency, is clearly one of the most decent plays Rydberg and Thiel Players have produced in recent memory.