Theatre program stages historical production

The theater department at Stevenson University will showcase their newest production, “Finding Florence,” beginning April 4 and running through the weekend of the 13th. It follows the struggles of nurses throughout history, and catalogues the impact they have had in both the past and present. The show will continue the following weekend as well, giving attendees plenty of time to see history come to life.

As a part of the preparations for “Finding Florence, the cast and professors visited the Living Nursing Museum at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. (Photo from SU Theatre & Media Performance Facebook)

“Finding Florence” gets its name from Florence Nightingale, the English social reformer who founded the modern era of medicine. Before her involvement in medicine, most practices were barbaric and many were based in folklore and local superstition. The play is meant to show the long and arduous journey in the advancement of nursing, from Nightingale’s time up to the present day. It also examines how nurses of today are helping cement their own legacy in nursing, much like Nightingale did.

Ryan Clark, the program coordinator and assistant professor of theatre at Stevenson University, pitched the idea to theatre students last December. Clark wrote the script and was the “captain of the ship” when it came to moving the production along. Rehearsals started in January and the students have been diligent in putting scenes together. Costumes and projections bring the characters to life and help set the mood.

Since January, each student has taken on a role that had to be researched for both authenticity and accuracy. One such example is David Eyring, a junior theater major, who researched psychiatric nursing for his role.

Senior theater major Sean Laraway is the stage manager for the production. He explained that his job is to “organize and set the stage” as well as handle the main communication and technical side of the production. He has ensured that there will be three main projections, one on stage right, another on stage left, and another in the center. These projections will help secure the proper lighting and solidify the mood for the time period.

For this production, sound cues will also be instrumental to help connect the audience to what’s happening on stage. There will be realistic hospital sounds among others to add authenticity to each scene, and, according to Eyring, “I don’t know all the sound cues, but there will be a lot of sound.”

The cast members have interviewed professional and student nurses in the Baltimore area in preparation for the production, according to Eyring.  The theater department is adamant about accurately portraying the story of nursing, and has gone to great lengths to capture all the aspects of nursing.

The play’s eight actors include Shelbie Baird, Emily Bartles, Scarlet Dare, David Eyring, Maddie Howard, Chris Roberts, Georgie Williams and Matt VanNostrand-Young. Tickets are now available and can be picked up at the show, reserved at the box office, or purchased online through their ticketing site.

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