Immaculata Magazine - Winter 2015 - page 34

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I MMA C U L ATA MA G A Z I N E * W I N T E R 2 0 1 5
Can you imagine producing dozens of plays each
year—and creating original content for each one
of them? That is what Sister Donatus MacNickle,
IHM, did for 55 years. It all started in November of
1914 with the production of
The Tribute of the Years,
with the Villa Maria Players under the direction of
Sister Donatus.
During those early years of Villa Maria Academy,
most of the productions were written by Sister
Donatus including
The Unknown God
(1916),
The
Light Beyond
(1916), and
Fleur-de-lys
(1918), with
music by Sister M. Immaculée, IHM, as well as
The Courtship of Miles Standish
(1926), and many
others. She continued to write original content for
the Christmas plays, the senior play, and the Passion
plays. Her favorite play was
The King’s Jongleur
(1927), which she wrote as an original Christmas
play. Students in her class would brainstorm plot
ideas and also write some of the plays, which would
then be produced.
All productions were held in the Little Theater
(east of the Terrace Rotunda where the Registrar’s
Office is currently located) and were performed by an
all-female cast until the 1940s when male students
from Villanova and Saint Joseph’s universities would
audition for the male leads. Immaculata students
would also be cast in their plays as well. It was a great
way to mingle.
“Sister Donatus was very forward thinking,”
commented Sister Marie Hubert Kealy, IHM,
Ph.D., professor emerita of English. “She understood
theater to be not only a learning experience but also
a social event.” She also noted that Sister Donatus
always made enough money to provide for the next
production. Sister Marie Hubert would know,
because she was a student of Sister Donatus and later
served as director of Cue & Curtain from 1977 to
2005. The theater group was renamed The Cue and
Curtain Players in 1942.
Back in the day, the theater productions were a
real campus-wide event. Sister Anne Marie Logue,
IHM, professor of Economics, would design and
sew some of the costumes with help from the Home
Economics students. The students also helped build
and create the stage sets; very little was purchased. In
addition, when Sister Marie Hubert was a student,
her playwriting class wrote the 1955 Passion Play,
and she also directed a play that she wrote while
Sister Donatus conducted the stage work for that
production. The Immaculata plays often “took the
show on the road,” performing at other colleges in
the area. Sister Donatus also brought in lecturers and
provided other activities that kept the theater troupe
engaged throughout the year.
The lessons learned from Sister Donatus came
in extremely handy when Sister Marie Hubert came
back to Immaculata to succeed Sister Constance
Mary as director of Cue and Curtain. “My first day
back at Immaculata, Sister Constance Mary told me,
‘I’m not going to throw everything at you all at once,’
and then she died the first day of class having told
me nothing.” Sister Marie Hubert adds, “I can laugh
about it now.”
Sister Constance Mary also had a long history
with campus theater productions. As a student from
the Class of 1929, she portrayed the Jongleur in the
very first performance of
The King’s Jongleur
. Sister
Constance Mary continued to make her mark on
the history of theater at Immaculata, serving as
director from 1971 to 1976. In 1972, she started
the Children’s Theatre as an interim project,
opening with a fan-favorite,
Cinderella
. To this
day, the Children’s Theatre is an extremely popular
production every year.
During her 28 years as director of Cue and
Curtain, Sister Marie Hubert produced dozens of
plays. She counts among her favorites
Antigone,
Murder Must Advertise
, and a version of Sherlock
Holmes where both leads were performed by females.
However, the play that she found most artistically
creative was
Twelve Angry Women
. The original
production,
Twelve Angry Men
, was written for an
all-male cast, but the play exists in different gender
formats so Sister was able to buy the rights to that
play and use the available Immaculata female
students.
“That was an easy one. All you need is a table.
I loved it.” Sister also noted that the two lead
characters in that play, who had lengthy dialogue,
would tape their script to the table to use as reference.
The characters never switched seats so this technique
was helpful.
The Children’s Theatre has a special place
in Sister Marie Hubert’s heart. Although the
OF THEATER
PRODUCTIONS
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