ENMU theater spreads wings with all-local play

By Jesse Wolfersberger, Freedom Newspapers

Eastern New Mexico University professor Janeice Scarbrough said teaching playwriting is great, but it does not compare to sitting down and writing one yourself.

“I made it my goal to make time to write a play this year,” she said.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Scarbrough wrote plays that were performed across the country. She has been teaching playwriting for five years at ENMU, and said since becoming a teacher she has not had the time to write a play like she used to.

Scarbrough wrote “Mia, Emma and Rose,” a play being produced and performed by the ENMU theater department Wednesday through April 29 in the studio theater at the University Theater Center.

Scarbrough said the lessons she teaches her students came in handy while writing her most recent play.

“I tell them to be a good observer,” she said. “Pay attention to everything. There is a play on every corner. People are fascinating.”

“Mia, Emma and Rose” is a completely in-house production for Eastern. The writer, director, actors and production are all done by ENMU students and faculty.

“I think it’s great,” Anne Beck, a professor at ENMU and the play’s director said. “It’s a showcase for our department.”
Beck said the play touches on issues of motherhood and being able to accept your family.

“(The play) is about accepting life on life’s terms rather than what you want it to be,” Beck said.

Two of the play’s characters, Mia and Emma, were adopted, and Rose is a mother who had to give up her daughter.

Scarbrough said she loves Irish history, and drew on her Irish heritage while writing “Mia, Emma and Rose.”

The play deals with a Magdalen Asylum in Ireland. Magdalen Asylums were homes for women run by the Catholic Church. The homes were created for unwed mothers and prostitutes. The first one opened in the 19th century; the last one closed in 1996.

Mia is played by Jaime Barnes, an ENMU senior. Barnes’ character is searching for her birth mother.

Emma is played by Jami Dru Witt, also a senior. Emma was adopted, but rejects her birth mother, Rose, when she comes looking for her daughter.

Rose is played by Stella Buie, a professor at ENMU.
Beck said “Mia, Emma and Rose” is a challenge for the actresses because this is the first time the play is being performed, so they have no guide on how the parts should be played.

“I try to liberate them from the fear that they’ll do wrong,” Beck said. “You have to have faith that you’re going in the right direction.”