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The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

A Look at Furman Theatre’s Upcoming Production: “The Dumbwaiter” and “The Lesson”

The Paladin sat down with the cast and crew of Furman Theatre’s “The Dumbwaiter” and “The Lesson” to learn about the show in advance of its debut tomorrow night.
Jonathon Wood ’24 (Ben) and Liam Daniels ’24 (Gus) rehearsing for The Dumbwaiter.” Courtesy of Des Parker ’26

On Nov. 28, Furman Theatre will be presenting its production of the plays “The Lesson” and “The Dumbwaiter,” both directed by theatre professor Rhett Bryson. The one-act shows will run consecutively as a part of one production. 

Bryson explained that the plays fit nicely together as one show.

“Each on its own would be too short for a single evening performance. Both are in the Theatre of the Absurd genre. I have directed both before and love the scripts and the opportunities for performing the characters that they offer our actors.”

“The Dumbwaiter,” produced in 1959, was written by Harold Pinter. This play follows a two-person cast, Ben and Gus, but the catch is that the audience is given little to no context about Ben and Gus, nor what is going on when they are introduced. Throughout this one-act play, the plot and background of the two are clarified through their interactions with one another and with others through the dumbwaiter connected to the basement. The Lesson, produced in 1951, was written by Eugène lonesco and mirrors this subversion of expectations found in “The Dumbwaiter.” “The Lesson” develops its plot line in slow, carefully thought-out scenes between the Professor and the Pupil. Throughout the play, the Professor is teaching the Pupil arithmetic. However, through a series of distractions, interruptions from the maid, and a slow change in the dynamic between Pupil and Professor, the audience slowly learns of the real plot. 

Prior to break, I was able to sit in on a rehearsal of both productions. During this rehearsal, both casts completed a full run-through of the plays. Bryson sat in the audience, taking notes throughout the rehearsal, letting the actors perform to the scenes first as they saw fit. At the end of each run-through, Bryson sat the cast down and provided them with notes, critiques, and praises on their performances. 

When asked about his method, Bryson said, “The producing of plays is not

just to put on a production for an audience. It’s more like a laboratory for the theatre students to become better theatre actors.”

All members of the cast and production crew took the rehearsal seriously like it was the real deal. It was obvious, just from rehearsal run-throughs, that the students were passionate about the production.

After rehearsal, I talked with the cast of both plays. 

Liam Daniels ‘24, who plays Gus in “The Dumbwaiter,” said rehearsal for this show has been unlike other productions in which he’s participated.

 “The process has been very different than most of the rehearsals that I’ve done in the past. It’s very fast-paced and I like that. It feels like a space where everyone genuinely has a lot of respect for each other, I would say. Director, actors, and stage crew alike.” 

Other actors such as Sara Lowe ‘26, who plays the Maid in “The Lesson,” praised Bryson’s directing.

 “[Bryson] is very good at creating an environment that helps everyone feel safe,” she said.

Many students expressed how these plays and their scripts have pushed them to expand on their skills as an actor. 

Cian Colgan ‘26, who plays the Professor in “The Lesson,” said “I think it’s a very fun play to do. I think it is very fun to play a character who goes through like, five stages of characterization. I think it’s a very challenging thing to do that pushes me to do better. I love the people I work with, I feel like they push me.”

“The Lesson” and “The Dumbwaiter” opens on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and will run

through Saturday, Dec. 2. During the Saturday matinee, Matthew Sides ‘26, will be performing his role as understudy for Daniels in “The Dumbwaiter.” 

Student tickets are now available for $5. Don’t miss these thrilling and shocking productions by Furman Theatre!

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