By George Spelvin

DEFYING GRAVITY, Jane Anderson’s ethereal play directed by Dr. John O’Connor, opened in Wallman Hall Theatre Friday evening.  Using the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster and the death of teacher in space, Christa McAuliff to organize the action, the play centers around McAuliff’s daughter before and after the disaster and other characters associated with the event.  The play then becomes one about character relationships -- McAuliff and her daughter, a tourist couple and a Cape Canaveral bar owner/waitress and a NASA mechanic.  One additional character, the impressionist painter Claude Monet, also appears to “challenge” the characters and the audience to think about how we look at things.

The script thus becomes a mosaic of scenes that director O’Connor and the design team must lead the audience through for everything to make sense.  This “challenge” is ably met by this production team.  Staged on a set designed by Troy Snyder who also designed the lighting, and multimedia effects by Nick LeJeune, the atmosphere emphasizes the ethereal which is further reinforced by the sound design and original music by Dr. Daniel Eichenbaum.

The cast numbers seven actors and is lead by the “teacher” and her daughter Elizabeth played by Lillian Gaylord and Ann Marie Witkowski respectively.  Claude Monet is played by Stephen Phillips.  The tourists from Oregon who watch the launch are played by Kate Thompson and Allen Ludwick and John Hall and Kiya Fitzgerald portray the Cape Canaveral folks.

DEFYING GRAVITY continues this week with performances at 7:30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 7, 8 and 9.  Tickets may be purchased at the box office, 11:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, or by calling (304) 367-4240.  Tickets may also be purchased on line by going to

FSUNow Stories

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fairmont State University’s Department of Art attended the West Virginia Art Education Association conference in Morgantown in October. Faculty members Jeff Greenham and Jennifer Yerdon LeJeune staffed a mobile vendor cart and student Ty Collins presented a painting session. Yerdon LeJeune presented shaped canvas and silk screen printing sessions. At the awards dinner, Kylie Ford won the WVAEA Student Achievement in Art Education Award and Jennifer Yerdon LeJeune won the WVAEA Art Educator of the Year Award.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Students from Fairmont State University’s “The Art of Storytelling” course have the opportunity to present storytelling programming for the community.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the documentary “Miss Representation” addresses how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.

A local screening of “Miss Representation” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, in Multi-media Room A of the Ruth Ann Musick Library on the Fairmont State University campus. Admission is free and open to the public. After the screening will be a faculty panel discussion led by Dr. Francene Kirk, Abelina Suarez Professor of Communication and Theatre.

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