Last weekend, the William Woods University Theatre Department performed its third mainstage show this year: a drama called All My Sons by Arthur Miller. This was a unique production because it involved several members from the community in addition to the William Woods students who auditioned. The community members, ranging in age from twelve to over sixty-five, helped make the characters' age ranges much more believable.
All My Sons is about two families from the World War II era. Joe Keller and Steve Deever, the two fathers, ran a successful business that manufactured many products used in the war, until one day Joe authorized Steve to process a shipment of faulty airplane cylinders which, once put into use, caused over twenty airplane pilots to crash. While both men were originally convicted, Joe Keller was soon exonerated and allowed to return home. Steve, on the other hand, had to continue serving time behind bars. In reality, Joe was the truly guilty party - remember, he instructed Steve to process the shipment - but he successfully placed the blame on his partner for selfish reasons.
The play tells the stories of the children of the two families, along with Mr. and Mrs. Keller, being reunited three years after one of the Keller sons' plane went missing and he was deemed MIA. The remaining son is now determined to marry the other family's daughter, Ann, who had previously been in a relationship with the now-missing son. Mrs. Keller was greatly opposed to this union, as she firmly believed her missing son was still alive somewhere and that, therefore, it was absolutely wrong of her other son to take the former's girl. Obviously, these intertwined familial relationships caused great stress for everyone involved. Tensions continue to rise and more information is gradually revealed until finally, at the end of the show, the audience learns that Joe Keller is truly the guilty one; Mr. Deever, the man who had been serving time for the past three years, was, in fact, innocent.
As you've probably guessed by now, this was a very serious play. Everyone involved did a wonderful job - dedicating three hours a night to rehearsal for such a heavy show can be incredibly draining, but the entire cast kept their energy up and delivered four successful performances. It sounds like the audience was very appreciative of the show every single night, too, which is always good!
Monday and Tuesday, auditions were held for the fourth and final mainstage production, a hilarious farce called Perfect Wedding. I did audition for this one, and I got cast as Rachel, the bride! We had our first read-through last night. I'm so excited for this show! It's going to be absolutely hysterical. This show isn't until the last weekend in April, though, so I will write more about it when we get closer!
Perhaps a little backstory would be helpful. Every sorority and fraternity on campus has an organization (or "philanthropy") that they support, and each sorority and fraternity gets one week out of the school year dedicated to raising money and awareness for their cause. This week was Lyrefest, the philanthropy week for Alpha Chi Omega!! We held several fun events this week to rally support for our organization, CARDV (Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence).
Tuesday night the other sororities and fraternities at WWU and Westminster College played Capture The Flag in the gym! First the girls competed, and then the guys. I have to say, some of the fraternity guys got a little intense at times! My sisters and I had a blast cheering on all the players. One of WWU's very own fraternities, Phi Gamma Delta (affectionately known as "Fiji") came home with first place for the guys, and WWU's Chi Omega chapter won first for the girls!
Wednesday night was my favorite event: serenades! For this event, each participating sorority and fraternity picked a couple well-known songs and changed some of the lyrics to make them specifically about Alpha Chi Omega and/or the fight against domestic violence. Every year, they ways to work the seniors' names into the songs, which is always fun! After attending serenades for four years, it was pretty crazy to finally get to sit in the front row and hear people throw my name out! We basically got to sit in our basement and be serenaded for several hours... It was a great time! Fiji won first again for the guys, and this time Alpha Phi took home first for the girls!
Thursday we held the final event: Lyre Lord and Lyre Lady. Each sorority and fraternity picks one or two people to represent them in this event, which is kind of similar to a pageant. The contestants answer questions about domestic violence statistics and show off one of their unique talents. Sometimes people sing, juggle, dance, recite poetry... The talents people possess are practically endless! This year, Chasah from Delta Gamma was crowned Lyre Lady for interpreting a song into American Sign Language as it played over the loudspeakers. Keegan from Kappa Alpha at Westminster was crowned Lyre Lord for his robotic dance moves.
Everyone at Alpha Chi counts down to this week for a really long time, and it always goes by way too quickly! While ours only comes once a year, there are enough sororities and fraternities at WWU and Westminster that we usually don't have to wait very long for the next group's philanthropy week to come around, and then we get to return the favor by participating in all of their events! Philanthropy weeks are a wonderful way to get out of your comfort zone and try new things while hanging out with a bunch of wonderful people. They are definitely going to be one of the things I miss the most about my experience here at WWU!
We've all heard Dorothy's famous line from The Wizard of Oz, "there's no place like home." For me, that single line could easily be identified as the single biggest reason I was so nervous about going to college - I was afraid that I be incredibly homesick because, no matter how much I thought I liked the school I picked, it would never feel the same as home. Now, four years later, I realize that I was wrong.
My favorite thing about William Woods is the family feel of the school, hands down. Thanks to the smaller size of the school, the faculty, staff, and students all have a chance to get to know each other on a much closer basis than we would have at a large school. Here, the teachers know if you miss class... and they will ask the students who do make it if they know why you're not there! True, part of the reason they ask is so they can know whether or not the absense should be excused, but they also genuinely want to be sure that the absent student is okay.
Everyone always comments on how close they are to their teachers here at William Woods, but I think the rest of the faculty and staff deserve special mention, too. Literally everyone who works on this campus recognizes you. There are two ladies that work in Tucker dining hall who always come see the plays on campus, so every time I come into Tucker they ask me for an update on rehearsals. I'm on a friendly, first-name basis with many of the people who work in the Office of Student Life, too. I actually went to lunch this last week with Debbie Schick, the lady in charge of coordinating and overseeing the LEAD program. There are professors I have not had a class with since my freshman year, but who still remember my name and stop to say hi when we pass each other on the sidewalk. I don't think I could ever fully express how much I love the environment here at The Woods!
While it is true that no university will ever feel the same as the home you grew up in, I strongly believe that the college you choose can feel like home, too. My teachers, my classmates, my bosses on campus, the theatre department, and my sorority sisters, and all my other friends on campus have all banded together to create a home away from home that I know I will miss terribly after I graduate. Dorothy may have been right, but she forgot to include another important element. There is no place like home (away from home)!