The Austin College Theater Department is ready to debut its first production of the 2017-2018 season. “The Cripple of Inishmaan” will begin showing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The final performance will be Sept. 30 at the Ida Green Communication Center’s Beardsley Arena Theatre.


The play by Martin McDonagh “is a dark comedy set in 1934 Ireland — specifically a tiny island in the Galway Bay called Inishmaan,” a news release from the department says. “The plot centers around Billy Claven, the town’s orphan boy who’s been deformed from birth and lives a quiet life with his two adopted aunts, Kate and Eileen, in their general store. That is, until one day when JohnnyPateenMike brings news that an American named Robert Flaherty will be directing a new film on the neighboring island of Inishmore.”


It’s quite a group of characters, play director Dan Pucul said.


“The characters in this play are a peculiar group of people,” he said. “The lead is an earnest, heartfelt guy who just wants to get away and come into his own as a young actor. He has two adopted aunts that are a bit strange. They have mental disorders and one even spends time talking to a rock. Then there is the young lady that the lead secretly has affection for. She is just mean as vinegar.”


Pucul said the rehearsal time for this play was very tight due to the beginning of school, school breaks and the other productions coming up this year.


“The actors have been remarkably patient with me,” he said. “We have a few returning actors. We have a few freshmen in the play. We also have a few upperclassmen that have not had a lot of stage time that you will see a great deal of in this play. They are working really hard and I think we will be very consistent by the time the play opens next week.”


Pucul said this season at Austin College will not only be very interesting for the actors, it will be very interesting for play patrons.


“This play has more swear words than you can shake a stick at,” he said. “There are a cornucopia of swear words, so we want audiences to be mindful of that.”


A talkback with the cast will follow the Sept. 28 performance and a performance by Austin College’s Improv Troupe will follow the Sept. 29 production.


General admission is $8 or free with the presentation of a valid Austin College ID. For more information, call 903-813-2281. Advisory: the play includes significant profanity.


The cast includes senior Emma Grundy of Wichita Falls as Cripple Billy Claven, with senior Sarah Klawun of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and freshman Abby Goodman of Austin playing aunts Eileen and Kate, respectively; sophomore Kyle Andrle of Allen Bartley McCormick; junior Harri Drake of Whitesboro, Slippy Helen; senior Matthew Rapier of Plano, as JohnnyPateenMike; senior Christopher Cooper of Midland, Babby Bobby Bennett; sophomore Alexandra Baker-Livingston of Richardson, Mammy O’Dougal; and freshman Harper Jambor of Austin, Doctor McSharry.


The design team includes sophomore Anna Kat Forbus of Plano who handled costumes; senior Bailey Carrell of San Antonio handles sound; freshman Nick Chaviers handled projections; and junior Aurora Hadzic of Lubbock and senior Rebekah Urban of Whitesboro were in charge of props. Liz Banks of the theater faculty designed the lights and Pucul designed the set.


In November, the department will present the melodrama “The 39 Steps,” based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller. In this production, four actors play 130 characters in the 100-minute production. Senior Jacob Dowell of Little Rock, Arkansas will direct the play.


In December, the directing class presents an evening of one-act plays to showcase student work.


Also, this season at Austin College actors will take on “The Vagina Monologues,” “The Love of the Nightingale,” “Stop Kiss,” and a group from New York City will show, “The Doll Den.”