By Skylar Bell Brenner, Entertainment Editor
The Hardin-Simmons University Department of Theatre will be performing the play “Night of January”at 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 20-23 in Van Ellis Theatre. Admission is free for HSU students, faculty and staff, $5 for outside students, seniors and military and $10 for general admission. The play is written by Russian-American author Ayn Rand and directed by HSU students Hanna Hayes and Benjamin Burke.
Co-directors Hayes and Burke casted the play at the beginning of October and rehearsals have been in progress since since Oct. 12.
“’Night of January 16th’is a 1930s courtroom drama. It centers around the trial of Karen Andre for the murder of her lover, Bjorn Faulkner, an extremely successful businessman. The show contains a series of witnesses, dramatic outbursts and a thrilling plot line. Some themes in the show are love, loyalty, deception and corruption,” Hayes said.
This play is unique, as the audience is able to participate in the outcome of the play. A few audience members will be chosen to be in the jury and will decide the verdict of the court case.
“The purpose is to decide whether or not Karen Andre is guilty of murder. The murder of her lover to be exact. We, the audience, use her life, the testimonies given and our own personal biases to find her either guilty or not guilty. The premise of the show is ask the question, ‘Can you look past the person to see the facts or does who someone seem to be blind you from the truth?” Burke said.
“I think the audience will love this show. It is rare that the audience has a role in a production. In this one, they are an integral part to how this show turns out,” Hayes said.
Both Hayes and Burke have enjoyed the directing process and working together to make the show their own.
“It has been the most unique and rewarding process. The most rewarding part of all of this has been the confidence that it has brought me. Directing can be extremely intimidating, but this process has helped prepare me for teaching all the more. I have also loved working alongside my co-director, Ben. He is one of my best friends, so it has been so fulfilling to create this with him,” Hayes said.
“I am very proud of my actors for putting in countless hours of work inside and outside of rehearsal. I am proud of all my technicians and their work. But I am most proud of my co-director, Hanna Hayes. She has been by my side through not only this production but my entire time at HSU. This is the perfect way to end our time here, and I could not be prouder to have her by my side,” Burke said.
Hayes and Burke are excited for the performance and to be able to work with the element of the audience deciding the verdict. “I think the audience will love this captivating courtroom drama. It is funny, there are heavy moments, it tests who you are and how you think. Most importantly it tests how you see people. I think audience members are going to leave thinking about a lot which is always a goal of mine,” Burke said.