Season Preview: A look at TheatreAC's 2017-18 offerings

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
TheatreAC's season opens in October.
Photo by Chip Chandler

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

A classic by the late Sam Shepard and a Hidden Figures-like drama of female empowerment will highlight TheatreAC's 2017-18 season.

Amarillo College's theater department will stage four shows between October and May in the Experimental Theatre on the Washington Street campus. Season tickets are $24 for adults or $18 for seniors and AC students, faculty and staff.

The season opens with John Patrick Shanley's Psychopathia Sexualis, to be staged at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 to 7 and 3 p.m. Oct. 8.

Shanley's perhaps best known for winning a Pulitzer Prize for his drama Doubt, but his roots are in comedy, as his Oscar-winning screenplay for Moonstruck attests. (He also wrote Outside Mullingar, which Amarillo Little Theatre will stage this year.)

Psychopathia is definitely on the comedy side, director Monty Downs said.

"It's just strictly fun," Downs said.

In the five-person comedy, struggling artist Arthur is engaged to powerful Texan Lucille and attending regular therapy sessions with the possibly evil Dr. Block, who takes drastic measures to cure a particular fetish of Arthur's. That leads the artist to ask his friend Howard to intervene.

"It's really funny," Downs said. "There are lots of good twists and turns throughout."

The season continues with Lauren Gunderson's Silent Sky, to be staged at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 and 3 p.m. Dec. 3.

The fact-based drama depicts the struggles of a young woman, Henrietta Leavitt, as she attempts to find her place in the scientific world while working as an assistant at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s.

"The women were doing the legwork. They developed most of the procedures, and made discoveries that, of course, the men of the time took credit for," said director Ray Newburg.

If that sounds like Hidden Figures, which was set in the 1960s at NASA, you're on the same wavelength as Newburg.

"They're very thematically similar," Newburg said. "I saw (Silent Sky) at a UIL contest ... (and) the script was intriguing, and it came back to my mind after seeing Hidden Figures."

The department's third show was the one most recently decided upon — Shepard's Fool for Love, to be staged at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 to 24 and 3 p.m. Feb. 25.

"We had not decided on a third show, and then (Shepard) died (on July 27)," Newburg said. "I had forgotten about Fool for Love and I love it. It's a tight little show for four people— heavy drama, for sure, and not as weird as some of his stuff."

The drama, a 1984 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is set in a run-down Mojave Desert motel, where former lovers May and Eddie have reunited — Eddie desperate to reunite, and May — quite understandably — vehemently opposed to doing so.

"I'm really excited because I've never directed a Sam Shepard play," Newburg said.

The season will close with a contemporary musical, Be More Chill, by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, based on the 2004 YA sci-fi novel by Ned Vizzini. It will be staged at 7:30 p.m. April 27 and 28 and May 3 to 5, plus 3 p.m. May 6.

"It's very modern ... with really good music," Downs said. 

In the musical, a teen boy is bullied and romantically adrift, so he ingests a super computer that helps guide him through social interactions and makes him one of the most popular kids in school.

Individual tickets will go on sale two weeks before each opening night. They're $8 each for adults and $6 each for seniors and AC faculty, staff and students.





Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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