Historical fiction play rounds out 2022 school year

Theatre students and staff challenged by upcoming show

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre wraps up this school year beginning April 21 with an exciting theatrical expression celebrating one of the most interesting women in history with “Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight.” 

The Lauren Gunderson play will be directed by Angela Howell, an assistant professor and the theater’s technical director.  

Alaina Manchester, assistant professor and director of the Schuster Theatre, is especially thrilled about the authorial aspect of the upcoming show.  

“As a producer, I am excited that our students get a chance to do a show by Lauren Gunderson,” Manchester said. “I adore her and her work. 

“I am also glad that this has offered an opportunity for a deep dive into the history of the time period and the lives of these amazing and real people that the cast and crew get to represent.” 

Concord Theatricals described this production as, “Passionate. Brilliant. Defiant. Tonight, 18th century scientific genius Emilie du Châtelet is back and determined to answer the question she died with: love or philosophy, head or heart?” 

Howell shared this sentiment as director, just for a different reason.  

“I’m excited to be tackling a deep and challenging piece of art, especially after the campy farce of my last directing project,” she said. “It has stretched me artistically.” 

In addition to the anticipation surrounding directing the show, Howell wants to remind Schuster audiences that Chatelet was a real person, and although the play is a work of historical fiction, it is heavy rooted in fact, and the writing process included intensive research. 

“Her contribution to science was massive and her translation of Newton is still the standard in France today,” Howell said. 

Concord Theatricals also defined the play as a highly theatrical display and a humorous and sensual rediscovery of an intriguing woman from the past.  

The description ended with, “Emilie defends her life and loves; and ends up with both a formula and a legacy that permeates history.” 

This certainly invites audiences to the Schuster for a show Manchester described as romantic and dramatic with a bit of adult language, making it a suitable and exciting show for Gannon students.  

Howell gave the credit to the student actors, though, for all the effort put into the project.  

“I am excited to see the growth of the actors throughout the process,” Howell said, “because it’s really not about me, it’s about them. The actors and crew have poured hours and energy into this project.” 

Along with surrounding theaters, the Schuster Theatre has dropped its mask mandate, but masking is still encouraged.  

Audiences are reminded that there will be no late seating, as doors to the theater open an hour before the show, and doors are locked once the production begins to ensure audience and actor safety.  

Tickets are $10 for general admission, but Gannon students are offered a $5 discount with their student ID and code LOVE at checkout. 

Opening night is Thursday, April 21, with an 8 p.m. showing. Additional showings the first weekend are at 8 p.m. Friday, April 22, and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23.  

Audiences can also view the play at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 28, and 8 p.m. Friday, April 29. A 2 p.m. matinee showing will close the run on Saturday, April 30. 

Manchester said she’s looking forward to the performances. 

“I am always nervous about things that I cannot control, so theater is always a potential ulcer, but I am not nervous about the work I have seen so far from this group,” Manchester said.  

“I am excited for opening night and all of the pieces coming together and all of their hard work being showcased.” 

Tickets are now available at www.schustertheatre.com.


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