Barton Community College Theatre presents “The Diviners” under new director Miller James

Play Rehearsal
(From left) Cast members Grady Bolding, Delaney DeSpain, Luella Bennett, Aiden Gantenbein, Caden Rowan and Hayden Honomichl rehearse a scene in the Fine Arts Auditorium on Sept. 17.

September 23, 2019
Story and photos by Joe Vinduska

The Barton Community College Theatre Department will present “The Diviners,” by Jim Leonard, Jr at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door; students admitted free with a valid student ID.

The play is the story of a disturbed young man and his friendship with a disenchanted preacher in Southern Indiana in the early 1930s.  This comedic drama highlights well-intentioned friends and neighbors and small-town life.

Barton’s new Theatre Director Miller James moved to Great Bend at the beginning of the school year and said his relocation here inspired him to choose this play.

“I drove here from California, and, sight unseen, moved into a parsonage house on a church property in Albert,” he said. “Your big sky, the vastness of the land, the grand church, and the kindness of your community reminded me of ‘The Diviners.’  I felt instantly at home and accepted. This play is about community and accepting folks for who they are or who they want to be. The characters are people we know and I felt that was important.”

James said his play invokes a strong emotional response.

“This is a piece of theatre sure to delight and move you,” he said. “It’s meant to earn your sentiment. I suspect you may fall in love with the young boy. You may relate to many of the characters. That’s what we are working toward as an ensemble.”

Great Bend Native Marcus Mull who plays CC Showers, a former preacher who is down on his luck, said the show has something for everyone.

“It’s very nuanced,” he said. “You start to feel very comfortable with the characters and you feel hope for them, and at times it feels very heartwarming before it turns tragic. There are just a lot of different emotions that you will feel and they’re conflicting and I think it will take some time to process afterward. It’s just a lot of drama, but also soft, feel-good moments.”

As the premiere for his first show at Barton nears James said that although moving from Santa Barbara was a big life decision, he’s already enjoyed a positive environment and his cast members are happy to have him here.

“I’m thrilled to be at Barton,” he said. “The theatre students are serious about their craft and they want to create and learn. The staff has been welcoming, and Great Bend – to quote a line from the show – ‘It’s a nice town.’”

Mull said James’ professionalism has been exceptional.

“It’s been great to work with someone who was a professional actor and director because he’s really good at working with actors and understands the process,” he said. “He knows how to steer you in right direction without telling you exactly how to interpret your character. He doesn’t micromanage. He trusts us.”

For more information, contact James at millerj@bartonccc.edu (620) 792-9205.

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