Ciara Jackson, left, Eric Rozell and Richard Warner rehearse a scene from "The Vertical Hour" in the Studio Theatre, Tuesday.

Ciara Jackson, left, Eric Rozell and Richard Warner rehearse a scene from “The Vertical Hour” in the Studio Theatre, Tuesday.

LU to present ‘The Vertical Hour,’ Feb. 8-11 in Studio Theatre

Even the briefest visit to Facebook illustrates the tensions and division that arise from differing viewpoints. Playwright David Hare’s “The Vertical Hour,” focuses on the strained relationships between people with opposite views on the 2003 Iraq invasion. 

The Lamar University department of theatre and dance will present the play, Feb. 8 through Feb. 11 in the Studio Theatre. 

“The Vertical Hour” has been a 10-year dream in the making for associate professor Joel Grothe, and his long-time friend and acting coach Richard Warner, who acts in the production.

The theatre department here at Lamar has an excellent guest artist program that rivals any that I’ve witnessed in the nation,” Warner said. “My experience so far in Beaumont, as we enter our final week of rehearsals, has been exceptional.

“The company of Lamar student actors and staff whom I’m rehearsing with every night are smart, enthusiastic and talented. They approach their work professionally which means they always come prepared to every nightly session ready to explore and exchange ideas about our characters in this complex, language-driven play.”

Warner plays Oliver Lucas, who he describes as an acerbic, witty, clever British physician. The British actor, Bill Nighy, created the role in the original Broadway production in 2006. 

“Oliver’s political views, his morality, his demeanor, in many ways are completely the opposite of mine,” Warner said. “When you get a chance to create a character who is very unlike you in personality and perspective it is a particular pleasure. My research has included the Iraq war, British politics, Oliver’s home town of Shrewsbur, and British medical practices. We hope we can offer our audiences a lively, passionate evening full of ideas.”

Sir David Hare is a celebrated writer in England but Warner said he is not as well known in America, even though 10 of his plays have had Broadway productions. 

“I am quite proud to be a member of the Lamar company that will share his poetic language and insightful ideas with our patrons,” Warner said. “My character has a line in the play where he answers his son’s question, “What did you talk about?” Oliver’s response is, “Your mother, Iraq, the woman I killed, politics, solitude, love” — that about sums up what the play covers.”

Ciara Jackson plays Nadia Blye, a Yale University professor and former war correspondent.

“In the few plays that I have been a part of in the last two years, ‘The Vertical Hour’ is far more connected to modern day life,” Jackson said. “In many ways, is more difficult than putting on plays that are fantastical and make believe. You can be more creative in a fictitious world, where as in this play, it is real people we are trying to portray and give a voice to.”

Eric Rozell plays Phillip Lucas, the son of Warner’s character.

“This being my second play, I feel like I learned a lot from Joel Grothe and Richard Warner,” he said. “This is a very thought provoking and intellectually challenging play. The audience can expect to have their views challenged and brains expanded.”

The costumes are by student designer Doelen Fox.

Show times are 7:30 p.m., Feb. 8-10, and 2 p.m., Feb.11.

Tickets are $7 for LU/LIT students with a valid ID, $10 for LU/LIT faculty and staff, senior citizens and non-LU students, $15 for General admission.

Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling 880-8037, or in person at the box office one hour before each performance. 

For information on special preview read here.

Story package by Sierra Kondos, UP staff writer

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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