BJU presents “Richard III: The Terrible Reign”

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BJU presents “Richard III: The Terrible Reign”

This fall is the ninth time BJU has staged the play. Photo: Hal Cook

The Bob Jones University Concert, Opera & Drama Series will present “Richard III: The Terrible Reign” Nov.15-17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rodeheaver Auditorium. With more than 40 years of experience, theater professor Jeff Stegall takes on the role of director and designer of the Shakespeare play. The play develops the story of Richard III, protrayed or played by John Cox, and his violent journey to overtake the throne of England as an heir to the House of York.  

Stegall said he has done everything possible to make the play understandable to the audience, starting by cutting the 61 original characters to only 18 named characters. Similarly, as the play’s designer, Stegall seeks to help the audience enjoy a unique experience by mixing different periods in the same set.  

“We took all these periods, the 15th century, Victorian and then the modern era, and we mix them all together to sort of create a world that never really existed in history and never will exist,” Stegall said. Through the costumes and the stage design, Stegall said he wants to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “The only time you can see these people dress like this and the decor of the production is to come to the show because it only exists for this particular show,” Stegall said. 

Cast members said  the design is a powerful element of the production. “Mr. Stegall’s design, it’s very compellingeverything is really tight together, working towards a very specific design,” Cox said.  

Although the play will focus on Richard’s “terrible reign,” the public can expect to learn positive lessons. Despite Richard’s murderous journey to the throne, the play exalts righteousness since Richard receives just punishment for his evil deeds, Stegall said. Cox also said that he admires Richard’s honesty as “he is able to look the audience in the eye and say exactly what he wants, say exactly what he’s going to do.”  

Cox encouraged the audience to watch the play unfold without letting prejudice skew their experience and instead try to relate to the characters. “I would invite the audience to try to see themselves in the play somewhere. Who are you in the play?” Cox said.  

Spectators can also expect to laugh during several humorous scenes as there will be some comic characters in the play, Stegall said. “But for the most part Richard, I think, is the one who gives us a sense of what we call “black” comedy, where it’s humorous, witty — witty talk about dark subjects.”  

Audience members should understand the play, even if they do not know much about the background of the story, Stegall said. The first 10 minutes of the play are crucial to understanding and enjoying the entire play. “That’s really my big goalI want it to be very understandable,” he said. “They don’t need to know history. They just need to watch.”