BETHANY, W.Va. – Gift grades for athletes, painkiller abuse, and denial of injuries. These might sound like recent headlines from the sports media, but Bethany College Theatre’s upcoming production of Bill C. Davis’ 1985 play, “Dancing in the End Zone” tackles all these issues and more.
The play tells the story of James Bernard (played by freshman Theatre Major Elias Stebbins, of Washington, Pennsylvania), a star quarterback for a Division I football team. He lives off-campus with his wheelchair-bound mother, Madeleine (sophomore Psychology/Social Services Major Stacy Boston of Follansbee, West Virginia), who has taught him to live and breathe football as a remedy for his sensitive nature. This suits his equally doting coach (Bethany alumnus Nathan Marshall ’04 of Wellsburg, West Virginia) just fine. But a campus scandal about athletes being given gift-grades has become a national headline, which forces coach Biehn to get James a tutor, Jan (sophomore Communications Major/Theatre Minor Taylor Ferko of Pittsburgh). Little does anyone know that Jan is actually the anonymous reporter who broke the scandal and is now working on another exposé.
The play is being directed by Associate Professor of Theatre, Director of the Bethany College Theatre and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts Luke Hardt, with technical direction by Nathan Dunn. “I’ve wanted to tackle this play since it came out in the 80’s,” Hardt said. “A lot of things haven’t changed much since then. What’s mentioned as Novocain in the play is now OxyContin, the NFL denied the concussion syndrome for a decade or more, and recent accusations of NC State have shown that the gift grade tradition may still exist. But what is different is that the title also implies a Cold War/Ground Zero concern that takes the theme of the play beyond football.”
“Dancing in the End Zone” will be performed in Bethany’s Wailes Theater at 8 p.m. on Nov. 13 - 15 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 16. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. For reservations or directions, call 304 -829-7124.