Seven students in the Production Studies III course have spent the past two semesters producing the show "Coronado" by Dennis Lehane, which debuts this weekend.

This past fall, the students in the Production Studies III course began the process of selecting and producing a show in what Walter Schoen, a theater professor, described as “the capstone of the theater major.” In September, students in the course selected the play they wished to put on and divided responsibilities for classmates while analyzing the play with the help of faculty mentors. “Their production of 'Coronado' represents their thesis for many of these students,” Schoen said.

This spring semester, the coursework for these students expanded further with the actual creation of the show.

Putting together a full show was no easy task, said Sparkman Clark, the stage manager. “The process of putting together any theater production, let alone one as intensive and intricate as 'Coronado,' is an enormous feat that takes months,” Clark said. “As a class, PSIII spent months researching the play, analyzing the script, analyzing every character, figuring out where the show would take place and what life would be like in that setting. … The list is, actually, endless,” Clark said.

Set designer Mary Clohan said they "had days of simply discussing the play and what they really thought it was about." From those conversations, Alex Turner, the director, was able to condense all of their views into a working concept that helped to drive and influence the rest of the process, she said. 

In addition to all their hard work on the actual production, students in the class also had to raise the money to fund their budget as producers. “In the past, students would reach out to different departments to try to raise money for the production,” Schoen said.

The play by Dennis Lehane, award-winning author of "Mystic River" and "Shutter Island," is a murder-mystery thriller that keeps the audience on its toes the entire time, Clark said.

“The words ‘new,’ ‘edgy’ and ‘visceral’ were all ones that really stuck with us as we went into reading plays,” Clohan said. “When it came to 'Coronado,' we knew that this play had everything we wanted and more.”

Clark also said "Coronado" presented phenomenal acting opportunities and the story was unbelievably compelling.

Schoen described the Production Studies III class as “a production company that’s entirely on their own for executing its own play.”

When asked about her experience working on this show, Clark said, “All of it, even the most stressful moments, was 150 percent worth it, and if given the option I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

"Coronado" will be performed at Cousins Studio Theatre Feb. 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

Contact reporter Carney Judge at carney.judge@richmond.edu