July 9, 2007

RSU Theatre to Hold Auditions for Original, One-Woman Play

The Rogers State University theatre program will hold open auditions Monday and Tuesday, July 16-17, for its fall production of the original play “An Evangelist Drowns.”

The one-woman, two-act play, written by Gregory J. Thompson, RSU assistant professor, will be presented in October on the university’s campus in Claremore.

The play examines the life of Aimee Semple McPherson, a famed evangelist and media sensation in the 1920s and 1930s, who was often surrounded by public attention and controversy.

Founder of the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in Los Angeles, McPherson was one of the first evangelists to hold revival meetings and utilize the mass media to spread a religious message. In 1926, she disappeared while swimming near Venice Beach, Calif. At the time, it was assumed she drowned. However, 35 days later, she stumbled out of the desert in Mexico, claiming to have been kidnapped and drugged. A grand jury found no evidence of a kidnapping, leading to rumors about her disappearance, including a dalliance with a lover and purported recovery from plastic surgery. In 1944, she was found dead of a drug overdose in a hotel room in Oakland, Calif.

Several plays, films and books have been based on her life, including a recent installment of the PBS program “American Experience.”

Auditions will be held in Room 107 of Baird Hall. Those interested in auditioning should contact Thompson at (918) 343-7659. Actresses auditioning should be prepared to read from a script and move on the stage, Thompson said. Rehearsals for the play will begin in mid-August.