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Preview: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

By Kelly Burns, The Miami Student

The Caroline Scott Players company is bringing the Tony-winning play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" to Oxford.

It will be performed on April 7, 9 and 10 at the Oxford Community Arts Center.

The Caroline Scott Players is a semi-professional theatre company founded by Miami University's own Bill Brewer.

Because they are not a community theatre group, they are free to perform more difficult pieces of theatre like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

"If you were in community theatre, you wouldn't get the opportunity to work on plays that are this difficult very often," Brewer said, "and that's kind of the whole purpose of the whole group.

The group decided to perform "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" because of its iconic nature and difficulty.

The play follows the story of an older, dysfunctional couple that invites a younger couple into their home. It deals with themes of reality and illusion and acts as a criticism of society.

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" destroys the perfect family picture that was prominent in the 1950s, and criticizes the falsely optimistic view of life that was also popular at the time.

Bill Brewer and Bekka Eaton play the older couple, George and Martha. Vince Smith and Molly Wanko play the younger couple, Nick and Honey.

Both Brewer and Eaton are Miami professors. Brewer teaches in the Media, Journalism, and Film department and is the advisor for Strategic Communication majors.

Eaton is the director of the Theatre Department at Miami's Hamilton campus. She has a working background in theater and has worked with Second City, a prominent improvisational theatre troupe, in the past.

"It's an iconic piece," Eaton said. "It's a piece of American literature that's not done incredibly often because it is so difficult."

The company has been working with the play since the fall. However, due to a medical emergency in one of the members' families, they decided to push it back.

Director Rosalyn Benson thinks that the cast has benefited from the delay.

"We've lived with the play for a long time," she said. "But you don't really live with it until you begin to rehearse."

The cast does not rehearse every night. None of the members are exclusively actors. Each of them has an outside life that they do not neglect during the run of the play.

Another unique aspect of the production, according to Benson, is the intimate setting. The parlor where the play will be performed only seats about 50 to 60 people.

"We create a theater space in a place that is not one," Benson said. "You experience theatre in a whole different way. You're part of the experience."

Benson believes that this unique theater-going experience is one of the draws of the play.

In addition to the intimate venue, the cast thinks that Oxford residents and Miami students alike will be interested in the themes and setting of the play.

"College students might not understand faculty politics but it's funny. A lot of the faculty politics from the 60s are still very true today," Brewer said.

According to Brewer, the play will be especially interesting to English and theatre majors because of the difficulty of the lines and the intricately written prose. The play is also comical despite its dark undertones and themes.

"I had one of my students helping me with lines and she said 'Oh wow, this is really funny,'" Brewer said. "And it is very funny, but then it gets disturbing, puzzling and very intriguing."

Tickets can be purchased online on the Caroline Scott Player's website. Tickets will be $5 off for Sunday's performance if bought with the code STUB.