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‘Roses of Eyam’ a play with community in mind

April 11, 2013 | Leave a Comment

‘Roses of Eyam’ a play with community in mind

BUIES CREEK — The health sciences and public health have been a huge part of Campbell University’s growth over the last 25 years, and with the opening this fall of the School of Osteopathic Medicine, they’ve become more than just a trending topic in this area.

Campbell’s Department of Theatre Arts broaches the subjects of public health and community in its upcoming production, “The Roses of Eyam,” which begins at 7 p.m. April 12 at Ellis Theatre in the Taylor Bott Rogers Fine Arts Building. Four other shows are scheduled for April 13 and April 18-20, all beginning at 7.

“Eyam” is set in England during the Great Plague, a relatively contained outbreak of bubonic plague in 1665-1666, responsible for 100,000 deaths (15 percent of the population of London) in those two years. The outbreak cost the small village of Eyam, where the play is set, more than 75 percent of its population.

According to Bert Wallace, head of the theatre department and co-director of the College of Arts & Sciences, the play is about how this community came together and responded in the face of impending grief and death. The characters in the play are based on the actual residents of Eyam, and all of the specific incidents mentioned actually occurred.

“What attracted me to this play — besides the subject of public health and what that means to Campbell at this time — was how this community overcame personal differences and fear and performed this amazing act of self-sacrifice for the larger good,” Wallace said, referring to the villagers’ decision to quarantine themselves once the plague hit rather than try to flee and, thus, spread the disease.

To represent the wide range of ages and people of the village, Wallace went beyond his students to cast the play. About half of the listed cast of 34 actors are from the community — residents of Buies Creek, Angier, Dunn and Fayetteville, to name a few. The lead role of Rev. William Mompesson is played by Campbell senior Chris Morrow.

“Roses of Eyam” is one of the four productions this year by the Department of Theatre Arts. According to Wallace, the first production of each school year is a large-scale musical, followed by three plays — comedies, dramas, tragedies and even smaller-scale musicals — leading up to spring graduation. In choosing the material his students will perform, Wallace says he looks at three criteria: will it challenge his students and be something they enjoy doing? ... will it be interesting and entertaining to the Campbell community ... and finally, will it attract an audience.

“Our priorities are in reverse of the typical theater,” Wallace said. “Some college programs have budgets the rely 100 percent on ticket sales, so we’re fortunate in that aspect. We probably couldn’t do a show like this if we had to look solely in a commercial sense.”

To purchase tickets, visit



(all shows begin at 7 p.m. at Ellis Theatre, Taylor Bott Rogers Fine Arts Building)

  • April 12-13
  • April 18-20

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