There will be drama on the Whitman College campus later this week, April 22-25, as theater alumni gather to celebrate 50 years of Harper Joy Theatre. Among them: an awarding-winning playwright, actors and other theatre professionals.

Playwright Nagle Jackson ’58 will direct the West Coast premiere of his new play, “Kafka in the Wings,” one of numerous opportunities for about 500 alumni and guests to experience during a larger-than-normal Spring Reunion Weekend that will include not only the theatre reunion but reunions for the classes of 1970 and 1974-76.

In addition to other theatre-related activities, panel discussions and a performance by a Whitman students’ independent theatre group, there will be opportunities to learn from such faculty members as Bob Withycombe, professor of rhetoric and film studies, who recently was honored as Washington State’s professor of the year.

“Alumni are enthusiastically signing up for talks showcasing four Whitman professors who are lecturing on their work,” said Polly Schmitz ’83, assistant vice president for alumni relations.

Withycombe’s talk will focus on the aftermath of the 1979 Greensboro massacre during the start of a protest against the Ku Klux Klan; Tom Hines, professor of theatre, will give a virtual tour of the ancient theatres of Greece and Rome; G. Thomas Edwards, professor of history emeritus, will talk about student activism on campus in the 1960s and 1970s; and David Schmitz, professor of history, will lecture about the parallels between the Iraq and Vietnam wars.

Other opportunities include the Jack Freimann Poster Exhibition, which will feature just a few of the hundreds of theatre posters in the college’s collection. Freimann in the 1960s started collecting and hanging theatre posters from around the world to help impress upon students the importance of theatre. Freimann, a long-time theatre director at Whitman, now a New York actor, will be at the reunion.

Ed Joy ’66 and James Joy ’57, sons of Harper Joy ’22, who was a staunch supporter of the college’s theater program, will share remembrances of their father, as will Doris Woodward, author of “Man of Many Faces: Harper Joy.”

In addition to the many enriching activities, the best thing of all could well be the countless reunions that will take place.

“Alumni are most excited about returning to campus to see the friends they spent so many hours with in the theatre and the faculty,” said theatre reunion organizer, Angela Toretta, assistant director for events.

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