FMU Theater Showcases Student-Directed Play

FMU’s fine arts department hosted a free-to-attend, student-directed play titled “Love Letters” with nightly showings from April 14 through April 16 at the Hyman Fine Arts Center (HFAC) Theatre.   

The show, written by playwright A.R. Gurney, drew in a crowd of around 30 people during their Thursday night show. Professor of theatre arts Keith Best played “Andrew Makepeace Ladd III,” with professor of theatre arts Dawn Larsen as “Melissa Gardner.”   

Together, they presented audience members with a story of two childhood friends told through the letters they wrote to one another.   

Senior theatre major and director of the show, Alexander Simmons Jr., shared some insights into the play’s production and his experience directing for the first time.   

According to Simmons, the opportunity arose after the department had to cancel their previously planned show, “Art,” due to complications. The fine arts professors encouraged Simmons to select “Love Letters” as the drama of choice due to time constraints left by the cancellation of the original show.   

One main advantage the production team had when preparing for the play was that the physical scripts were a part of the play itself, giving the actors easy access to their lines throughout the performance. In addition to this, daily rehearsals and practice sessions took place in preparation.   

Simmons said it was an interesting and enjoyable experience working with an older cast and learning to navigate around their schedules as professors at FMU.   

Simmons also said one of his favorite parts of producing the performance was the set design. The original play stated both actors would be sitting at the same desk side by side; however, the production team and Simmons decided to add their own twist with their interpretation of the space.   

Instead of the original set, the theater team split the stage down the middle, painted and modeled to depict a dark canyon or ravine, with either half of a broken desk on each side. Simmons said this gave both a visual flair to the set and made it seem as if the actors were in two separate yet connected rooms.  

After his directorial debut, Simmons conveyed advice for theater lovers and future theater majors.  

“To any student that’s interested in theatre, I say go for it,” Simmons said. “I’ve been performing and acting for [many] years now, and it’s a way to express yourself outside the conventional means of writing or say, for people who prefer a more academic approach to it. Performing allows you to step into a world outside the world you already exist in. It’s awesome being someone else for an hour or an hour and a half.”  

Students interested in the theatrical arts may reach out to FMU’s fine arts department for more information on future course offerings and events, found at   

“Love Letters” was presented by special arrangement with Broadway Licensing, LLC.