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Swan song
Masquers present Lillian Hellman’s <i>The Children’s Hour</i>
The cast rehearses

On Dec. 8, Jamie Busbin will become the first directing major to graduate from the theater department at Armstrong Atlantic State University. For her final project at AASU, Busbin chose to direct Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour.

While she’s somewhat sad to be leaving AASU, Busbin says the theater department gave her the training that will guide her future. “I definitely found my niche here,” she says. “I came into directing only a year ago.”

One of the actors in the production believes Busbin has the talent to be a good director. “I’ve worked with Jamie once before,” Gail Byrd says. “She has phenomenal vision as a director.

“She has skills in casting,” Byrd says. “She has a wonderful ability to see the whole picture, and that’s one of the reasons people should come and see this show.”

Busbin directed her first show, Wit, for Memorial Health. Then she did The Odd Couple in Statesboro, and Arsenic and Old Lace for AASU. “I got hooked on directing,” she says.

“I enjoy acting,” Busbin says. “I’ve really loved ti since high school. But I enjoy communicating with actors, and I love breaking things down. With directing, I get the best of both worlds.”

The Children’s Hour is quite a departure for Busbin, who has worked mostly with male actors in comedies. The cast of The Children’s Hour features 10 females in the cast and just two men. “I haven’t done drama since Wit,” she says.

The Children’s Hour is most definitely a drama. “It follows two teachers who teach in a private school,” Busbin says. “They teach six to eight girls at a time.

“One is a hateful child. She gets punished for faking a faint, and tells her grandmother that the two teachers are lovers.

“That one tiny rumor ruins the two women’s lives,” Busbin says. “The whole point of the show is the power of words.”

The teachers take the matter to court, and more lives are ruined along the way. “It’s amazing to know something so little could create something so big,” Busbin says. “The girl starts a rumor she doesn’t completely understand.”

The topic of homosexuality seems somewhat unusual in a play written in 1934. “It was very controversial when it was produced because of the gay issue,” Busbin says. “But in this day and age, that’s not really the point any more. In fact, it wasn’t the point when Lillian Hellman wrote it.”

The staging of the play is rather unusual because the Masquers are at a temporary disadvantage. Renovations at Jenkins Theater, the troupe’s usual home, are under way, but work on their replacement space, the AASU Chinese Theater, isn’t completed.

Instead of a theater, Busbin must stage the play in a classroom. As a result, the play is being done as theater in the round. “I had five hours to re-block the show,” she says.

Busbin has chosen to update the story to present day. “I’m working with a talented group of actors,” she says. “These actors can do it all.”

The Armstrong Atlantic State University Masquers will present The Children’s Hour Dec. 6, 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. in AASU Fine Arts Hall, Room 206. Tickets are $8 and will available at the door or in advance. Seating is limited, so for reservations call 927-5381 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.