PlayFest Showcases McMurry Talent

Issue 14: April 5, 2023

We are nearly a month away from the end of the 2023 semester! Although workloads are increasing as finals draw closer, the end of this semester also brings incredible opportunities and activities for the student body. Including the Theatre departments production of PlayFest! PlayFest is a conglomeration of five plays written and directed by McMurry theatre students. It serves as a great experience for theatre students to promote what they have learned and created whilst in the department, as well as an amazing opportunity for the community to see how talented and creative McMurry’s student body is.

The five shows that will be produced this year are as follows; The Parents of Room 10 (written by Madi Melbourrne, directed by Sterling Halliburton), This is How we Get Better (written by Sterling Halliburton, directed by Kelton Wehrman), Generational Gap (written by Tabitha Wilson, directed by Matt Marin), Specific Legacy (written by Halyi Isbell, directed by Babak Akavan), and Lionheart (written by Matt Lamar, directed by Dalton Martinez). These shows will be performed the 26th, 27th, and 28th of April!

In this article I will be sharing an interview I conducted with the playwright of Specific Legacy, Hayli Isbel.

The story Specific Legacy follows the life of Jordan Bishop after the tragic death of her two best friends Dean and Charlotte. Their 7-year-old daughter, Brynn, is left in the care of Jordan, and throughout the course of the show new relationships are built and old flings resurface. The show highlights the beauty of relationships growing in times of struggle, and how broken hearts can heal and change overtime.

Hayli Isbell, McMurry alumni and playwright of Specific Legacy, says that she is, “so excited and so thankful that McMurry is allowing the show to be produced.” This is a new experience for Isbell, and she is very transparent about the anxieties and challenges that come with producing her play. “I’ve never done this before, so allowing an audience to see my original work is something that terrifies me. I just want them to love it.”

Isbell shares that her role in this whole process is to be a big sister for the cast. “I’m around if they need me. I want to make sure their experience is fun and exciting!” Whether that be showing her support in or outside of the theatre, she wants to make sure to be there for everyone! From a technical standpoint Isbell is also the intimacy coach for the show. Main characters Jordan and Laura are past lovers who find their way back to each other after years apart. Her role as an intimacy coach is to make sure, “that this beautiful story gets told in a way that can relate to people. It’s about family. Not every family looks the same, and that’s a big part of what this story shows.”

According to Isbell, the essence of this show was summarized excellently in the words of director Babak Akavan. “Babak said something early on in this process. He said, ‘Family finds you.’ I definitely knew then that he was the best pick to do this show.” Isbell, following the theme of family, also shares how important and relatable the characters and their relationships are. “They’re real. I think that’s what makes this story so special to me. These people should exist and should be represented just like everyone else.”

Specific Legacy is such an intimate and heartwarming story about love, loss, and family. Isabel ends her interview saying this, “I hope we pull some heartstrings; I hope people have a good time, and most of all, I hope the audience loves it.”