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Emmy Award-Winning Alumnus Takes Stage for OWU Theatre's 'The Tempest'

March 20, 2003

[ 'The Tempest' Cast Photo ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- Ohio Wesleyan University's Department of Theatre and Dance closes its 2002-03 season with an unbeatable combination, as Delaware, Ohio, native and Emmy award-winning actor Wayne Turney guest stars in William Shakespeare's The Tempest as Prospero. Performance dates and times are April 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 8 p.m., with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on April 13, at Chappelear Drama Center.

First performed in November of 1611 before King James I, in Whitehall Palace, the play takes place on an enchanted Mediterranean island, where a deposed duke of Milan (Prospero) uses magical powers to raise a storm at sea. He is brought face to face with the brother who usurped his power 12 years before.

"As quarrels are resolved, love blossoms for a new generation in this richly poetic masterpiece of romance and reconciliation," explains L.B. Rabby, chairperson of OWU's Department of Theatre and Dance and director of the production. "And," he adds, "some of Shakespeare's best comic scenes are in this play as well!" As the last play Shakespeare wrote solo, many scholars, critics, directors and actors read The Tempest as Shakespeare's farewell to theatre, says Rabby.

OWU (1968) alumnus Wayne Turney reunites for this play with Rabby, his former professor. Turney designed Rabby's first OWU production, The Fantastiks, during Turney's senior year at OWU. Following graduation, the mathematics/theatre major accepted a commission in the U.S. Air Force and became a SAC pilot. After leaving the service at the end of the Vietnam War, Turney earned an M.F.A. and Ph.D. A.B.D. from Hilberry Repertory Theatre at Wayne State University. He has taught at the Chatauqua Institution, Wayne State University, Case-Western University, John Carroll University and for 25 years at Cleveland State University. He currently is a visiting instructor at Ohio Wesleyan for the spring semester, teaching courses in American Theatre History and Introduction to Theatre.

"It's nice to come back to Delaware after 35 years," says Turney, who will make his acting debut on Chappelear's stage in April. He returned briefly last year to direct the OWU production of John Orlock's Indulgences in the Louisville Harem.

"I love teaching because I like to have to continually rethink the process by which I work -- it keeps me honest and from being too self-indulgent," says Turney. But he describes his ongoing need to "go back to the well" as an actor. "The two really complement each other."

Turney is perhaps best known for his performances at The Cleveland Play House, where he served as dramaturg, and for his Emmy award-winning Cleveland-based children's television show, Hickory Hideout, for which he served as star and staff writer. He has appeared in most major arts organizations in Cleveland, and has appeared in theatres all across the country. Turney also is author, translator or adapter of eight produced works and is completing a new adaptation of Tartuffe for production this spring at Actors Summit.

"I tell my students that if they are not absolutely committed to theatre, go into another field," says Turney, emphasizing the ferocious competition that awaits them. "But there also is nothing more rewarding. It's not the applause or the reviews; it's the work itself, and one's connection to it."

Set design for The Tempest is by OWU theatre professor Glen Vanderbilt Jr., and costume designs are by Jacqueline Shelley, with Chadwyn Knutson as lighting designer. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $5 for students and senior citizens. For more information and to reserve tickets, call 740-368-3855.