John Vanderplough, a local theatre personality, will produce and direct EQUUS in Studio 307, the black box space at Miami University’s Hamilton campus. “Through Miami-Hamilton’s Theatre Outreach program, I was able to secure Studio 307, a 50-seat black box venue which I believe best suits the intimacy of the script,” says Vanderplough.
“In 2009 I attended a performance of Peter Shaffer’s classic 1973 drama EQUUS at the New Edgecliff Theatre and was completely amazed by the play. It was a dark, explosive, thought provoking work that I knew I wanted to direct some day.” Vanerplough enrolled in a theatre course (“Drama and Analysis”) at Miami University. EQUUS was one of the required readings. “The script analysis showed me so many themes and sub-texts that make compelling theater.”
He dug deep into the story. “No, it was not all about a 17-year-old boy who is brought to a psychiatrist after blinding horses; it was more an exploration of the psychiatrist’s mid-life crisis and about the questions of was is normalcy and what is passion. There was so much wonderful material for directing as well as for allowing actors to truly show their craft.”
Those actors are looking forward to sinking their teeth into the play. The cast is well-rounded. “In our production, Dysart is played by Bob Brunner, a local actor and director with several community and semipro theatre companies; and Alan is played by Michael Gettinger, who brings much acting experience from college and community productions. Both actors bring a realism to their roles – roles which carry perhaps 80% of the play. Other supporting actors are Diane Minnich as Magistrate Hester Solomon, Tera Garnett as Jill Mason, Cynthia Tate as Alan’s mother Dora, David Moak as Alan’s father Frank, Randy King as the stable owner Dalton, Douglas Striker as the Horseman, and Gisele Cicci as the Nurse. As a director, I am sure that the audience will be very pleased with the talent shown by the cast. Our Technical Director/Scenic Designer is James Watson.”
No one can doubt Vanderplough’s passion; you only have to meet him to understand how much he loves theatre. And he’s excited about this play. “For an intriguing evening of stimulating drama and theatre, I urge readers to see a performance of EQUUS, a work that is seldom produced. It is one that leads a theatre-goer to more thought and discussion about contemporary life, which is what theatre should do.”
EQUUS will play two weekends (six shows) starting March 11 including a matinee on March 13. More performance information is on the website. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling (513) 939-0599. For mature audiences only.