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Arts Eclectic turns the spotlight on happenings in the arts and culture scene in and around the Austin area. Through interviews with local musicians, dancers, singers, and artists, Arts Eclectic aims to bring locals to the forefront and highlight community cultural events.

'There's a lot of wackadoo stuff': Summer Break Theatre's 'Thank You, And Have a Nice Day'

 The cast of 'Thank You, And Have a Nice Day'
Elizabeth Hauser of Chirpy Graphics
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Summer Break Theatre
The cast of 'Thank You, And Have a Nice Day'

The Summer Break Theatre company is made up of local teachers and educators (including but not limited to drama teachers). This year, their summer production is the new comedy/drama Thank You, And Have a Nice Day, by playwright and fellow educator Monroe Oxley. “The play is about relationships in time of crisis and faith,” Oxley says. “Basically, how do people react in times of crisis? How do their relationships expand, change, evolve, or digress during that, and knowing what you have when you have it before you lose it.”

Thank You, And Have a Nice Day tackles some complicated and serious themes, Oxley notes, but does so with a healthy dose of comedy. “There's a lot of wackadoo stuff in there,” he says. “It's my style of writing.”

“I think that Summer Break Theatre does wacky plays really well,” says director Jon DeMitchell. “[There’s] kind of that oddball viewpoint that teachers themselves bring into the world. You know, we get to see the ridiculousness of school life and that gets translated pretty clearly, I think, into what we do, ourselves, on stage.”

“What I really like about this collaboration is that it goes in line with our goal to work with educators, and Monroe Oxley is an educator,” says Summer Break artistic director Maggie Meador. “So that's been really nice to work with someone who teaches at Southwestern University and then he gets to work with us directly.”

“I'd say as a high school director, it's very different working with adults,” DeMitchell says. “You know, we just do what we're supposed to do. So that's been a real fun treat as the director to, you know, just hand somebody something, give them some ideas and roll with it.”

“As the playwright, I've liked being at rehearsals,"Oxley says. "As I was writing it, you envision the character doing something, saying something a certain way. And then the adult professional Summer Break actors and director do it another way. And you're like, oh, I didn't even think about that. And so some of the stuff they've adlibbed, I've written into the final script and it's worked out super well.”

Keen to avoid spoiling anything for the audience, the crew of Thank You, And Have a Nice Day doesn’t divulge much about the play’s plot, but DeMitchell will give a few hints about what it’s all about. “Thank You, And Have a Nice Day is an homage to Texas Februarys, the delicious pastry that is the kolache, and amazing… comets that can change the trajectory of life,” he says. “For me, I really want the audience to walk away trusting in a relationship fully. I want them to… it's not blind faith, it's purposeful faith. And I really think that the script lends itself to have that conversation of what is blind faith, what is purposeful faith? And really, you know, giving into all the different types of relationships you have in your life.”

“Plus,” Meador adds, “it's just funny. The play is just funny and weird and it's just kind of… it's kind of a crazy play.”

'Thank You, And Have a Nice Day' runs June 8 - 17 at Hyde Park Theatre.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for KUT.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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