‘The Diviners’ challenges BU actors


Story by Sara

A new era within the Baker University theater department has begun.

New faces are emerging and veteran actors are being pushed to their limits as they are presented with challenging productions.

Patti Heiman, director of “Impolite Comedy,” is enthusiastic about the new direction the theater department is headed in.

“The theater department is extremely excited with all of the new expressed interest in us this year by the students,” she said. “We had so many new people (audition), so we are so excited.”

Sophomore Ryan Hodges is one of those new faces the theater department is excited to see. Hodges is a cast member in both of the fall productions, “The Diviners” and “Impolite Comedy.”

“I didn’t have time (to audition) last year,” Hodges said. “This semester rolled around and I figured out I have a lot more time, so I want to continue doing theater here.”

Hodges landed the lead role in “The Diviners” as Buddy Layman, a fragile-minded 17-year-old with a fear of water but has an innate ability to find it.

Tom Heiman, director of “The Diviners,” said the production is about “a very small town in Indiana during the (Great) Depression, and it’s a nice group of people that have some very bad things happen to them.”

Many cast members of “The Diviners” and “Impolite Comedy” are not theater majors, but that does not stop them from participating in the theater productions.

“I’m kind of stepping out of what I am comfortable with in terms of theater and terms of acting,” Hodges said. “But I think it is really going to be worth it.”

Sophomore Jessica Benner is in her second year of the theater program, but like Hodges, is not majoring in theater.

“I really like how personalized (the theater program) is,” Benner said. “It’s just like they never care if I don’t know how to do something … they’re always willing to teach me.”

Tom Heiman is challenging the cast of “The Diviners” by selecting what he calls a “character driven show.”

“The characters are so well written,” Tom Heiman said. “They’re just really interesting people to meet and be with for a couple of hours.”

Patti Heiman is also pushing her cast members by choosing a nonstop comedy production.

“Comedy is actually hard to do,” Patti Heiman said. “It takes a lot of training, special timing and getting a good chemistry between your cast.”

The cast of “Impolite Comedy” has less than four weeks until opening night to master these aspects.

Patti Heiman said most shows never rehearse less than four weeks before opening night, but she is confident that her cast will come together in the time they have.

“The Diviners” opens Oct. 6, and “Impolite Comedy” opens Nov. 10 in Rice Auditorium.