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Faith, sexuality clash in Baylor Theatre's "Wills and Secession"

Faith, sexuality clash in Baylor Theatre's "Wills and Secession"

"Wills and Secession"

Sisters Grace (Hannah Charles, left) and Ellen (Macy Lapham) find belief and sexuality tangle family ties in the Baylor Theatre production "Wills and Secession."

When Baylor University graduate student Chelsea Curto looked for a play for her master’s thesis production in direction, she decided she wanted something from Singapore, the multicultural city in which she grew up.

Curto, 31, selected “Wills and Secession,” a two-woman play by Singaporean playwright Eleanor Wong, which gave the student director an opportunity to share something outside of the Western culture that dominates much of American theater.

It came with a challenge, however: Curto didn’t have any actors of Asian descent, much less Singaporean ones, in the Baylor students available for casting. So she contacted Wong for her advice. The playwright gave Curto permission for her casting as her play didn’t address race as much as faith and family. Wong did, however, request it retain its setting in Singapore.

Waco audiences will get to see the result when “Wills and Secession” runs for three performances Thursday through Saturday at Baylor University’s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. The story examines the conflict between two sisters, Ellen and Grace Toh, who come together in 1990s Singapore in the aftermath of their father’s serious illness. Ellen (Macy Lapham) is a New York attorney married to a woman (Kayla Bush) while Grace (Hannah Charles) is married to a conservative Christian pastor.

Wong’s play finds the two struggling over family ties and present beliefs with a lesson in communication, Curto said. “When we don’t listen sensitively, we cause wounds we don’t intend to. We need to learn to listen to one another with compassion,” she said.

Performances of “Wills and Secession” are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 for Baylor students and faculty, senior adults and military personnel.

More performances

Local stages will be busy this weekend as well. Brazos Theatre gets back into its regular performances of murder mysteries with “Murder at the Speakeasy” at 7:30 p.m Friday at the theater, 7524 Bosque Blvd., Suite Q. The company will repeat the murder mystery on July 10. Tickets are $37.75, including dinner.

Young actors take the stage at the Waco Civic Theatre and the Lee Lockwood Library and Museum. The Waco Civic Theatre’s children’s theater presents “Disney’s Descendants: The Musical” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Bishop Reicher Catholic High School, 2102 N. 23rd St. Tickets are $14 and $12.

At the Lee Lockwood Library and Museum, 2801 W. Waco Drive, the Waco Children’s Theater will stage “Bye Bye Birdie” at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Tickets are $10.

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