news-category: Performing Arts

Gardner-Webb Department of Theatre Arts Presents Susan Glaspell Plays

two students rehearse a scene from the Two Plays by Glaspell
Cara Cole, left, and Faith Augustine rehearse a scene from Suppressed Desires.

Students Enjoy Challenge of Memorizing Lines and Bringing Characters to Life

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The performers who will take the stage in Gardner-Webb University’s production of two plays by Susan Glaspell: “Trifles” and “Suppressed Desires” are some of the busiest students on campus. Their love for the theater drives them to add memorizing lines and four weeks of rehearsals to their already full schedules.

“Trifles” is a 1916 one-act play that covers the aftermath of the murder-by-strangulation of a farmer in a small Midwestern town in the early 20th Century. The story provides an insightful social commentary on the state of women under patriarchy.

“Suppressed Desires,” originally produced in 1915, is a play about a woman, Henrietta, who is obsessed with dream interpretation and seems unable to stop over-analyzing the dreams of her husband, Stephen, and sister, Mabel.

Directed by Department of Theatre Arts Professor and Chair, Dr. Chris Nelson, the plays will be presented March 2-4 at 7:30 p.m. and March 5 at 2:30 p.m. in Dover Theatre.

As she prepares for her last production with the GWU Theatre, Faith Augustine portrays a character in each play. She is Mrs. Hale in Trifles and Mabel in Suppressed Desires. “I am a graduating senior with 18 credits, an acting PRE (Professional Readiness Experience) project, an author working on a novel and a performer,” she noted. “Then, with all of that, I have to worry about lining up work for myself when I leave Gardner-Webb in May.”

Faith Augustine and James Seip rehearse a scene from one of the plays.

However, Augustine affirmed that acting is an outlet and an inspiration. “It has become my language, the thing I fall back on no matter what is being presented to me, and it feels like second nature that motivates me in every other aspect of who I am,” she affirmed. “The most effective way to get it all done is to do it early. You have to treat the lines as if they’re your own and not fiction that was written 100 years ago. Breathe the words and force them into your bloodstream. It will become a part of yourself and eventually, they will not feel so much like lines you have to memorize.”    

James Seip, a sophomore and member of the swim team, also plays a character in each play. He is the County Attorney in Trifles and Steve in Suppressed Desires. He likes to focus on each personality and distinguishing characteristics. “When I am playing one character, I try to envision how they walk, talk, what their motives are for their actions, etc.,” he said. “Envisioning these things in my mind helps me keep the characters apart.”

He said diligence in keeping his schedule helps him prepare for all of his responsibilities. “When it comes to memorizing lines, I try to practice in the little free time that I have,” he added. “Personally, rehearsals are a great help to me when it comes to line memorization.”

Seip said his character in “Trifles,” the County Attorney, is ambitious and diligently tries to solve the crime, but he manages to miss facts that are important to the case. In the second play, Seip said his character is an aggravated man and that was a challenge. However, he liked the crafty side of his character which is fun to play and adds to the comedy.

“These plays are well worth seeing,” Seip asserted. “They are both relatively short, but extremely entertaining. If you come to see them, you’ll leave glad that you came. I would like to thank Dr. Nelson and my castmates for making this such a fun experience.”

Tickets for the plays are $10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors and free for GWU students, faculty and staff. Tickets available here.

Cast List


County Attorney: James Seip

Sheriff Peters: Caleb McNeary

Hale: Cory Dragun

Mrs. Peters: Mia Cotty

Mrs. Hale: Faith Augustine

Suppressed Desires

Henrietta: Cara Cole

Steve: James Seip

Mabel: Faith Augustine

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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