The BJU theatre arts department will present Pullman Car Hiawatha and The Long Christmas Dinner on Dec. 1-3 and 8-10. Show times for the two plays are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Students can purchase tickets from the box office in Rodeheaver or online at bju.universitytickets.com.

After the sold-out success of The Man Who Came to Dinner, Thornton Wilder’s Pullman Car Hiawatha and The Long Christmas Dinner will continue the department’s season of 20th century American plays.

Theatre arts faculty chose both plays to coincide with the Christmas season.

But although both plays are set in December and make some reference to Christmas, they are not the traditional Christmas plays.

Within both works, Wilder deals with the large theme of the passage of time.

Theatre arts professor Ron Pyle, who directs both plays, said Pullman Car Hiawatha (pullman car being the sleeper car of a train) is something like a Doctor Who episode only without the “charming Doctor Who.”

“The play is trying to show you how we have our own petty concerns as we go through life, but at the same time, there’s a whole universe out there that transcends all that,” Pyle said.

“[The play’s characters] aren’t aware of it. They’re not thinking about the universe itself—the planets. They’re not thinking about time and space. They’re all focused on something that’s tangible and real to them.”

The Long Christmas Dinner follows the experiences of one family across 90 years of Christmas dinners.

The play depicts the family as it grows and changes and encounters joys and tragedies.

Kaitlyn Chisholm, a graduate theatre arts student, said she views the play as a comprehensive account of the human experience.

“[This play] makes you think,” Chisholm said.

“This is not just for entertainment. You actually have to think and use your brain and use your emotions.”

In addition to providing students with entertainment and philosophical food-for-thought, the plays provide practical experience for theatre arts students, Pyle said.

Members of the 26-person cast for The Long Christmas Dinner range all the way from first-semester freshmen to graduate students.

The plays will be the first performance for many freshmen theatre arts majors since coming to the University.

One first-semester freshman Emma Pait was thrilled to have the opportunity to join a play cast so early in her college career.

“Especially with a theatre major, if you’re not doing, you’re not learning,” Pait said.

“You can’t just study plays: you have to do it in order to learn it.”